Saturday, May 8, 2010

What the Serbia Open means to me

TopSpin of Tennis is Served ... left me a comment in my previous post about how I said I'd be back in a few days, and implied that I might've been a little optimistic with that statement. Man, was he right! That post-marriage business is nothing to play with! But back I am, and ready to get to posting.

A lot has happened in the tennis world during my journey to wedded bliss: Heck, a lot has happened today with Roger Federer and Jelena Jankovic being upset in Estoril and Rome, respectively. But the biggest thing to me, honestly, over the past week or so—if not the year—is John Isner and Sam Querrey battling through to the finals at the Serbia Open. Running a close second to that? Those two making the finals in doubles at the Italian Open.

You see, their recent runs of good form on the dirt kind of support what I was saying when I thought the U.S. team would be able to beat Spain in Davis Cup a couple of years ago and Serbia this year: Big serves plus big forehands should equal success on clay. I'm no pro, but it seems to me if you can hit kickers that can bounce at shoulder height to the receiver or blast bombs up the tee and open up the court to crank a forehand, then this should be one of the easiest surfaces for U.S. guys to win on.

I know movement poses a problem, but that brings to mind a way-old article I read in Tennis magazine talking about U.S. players struggle on the slippery stuff. In the story, which was from the late '80s, a U.S. player said he was talking to Ivan Lendl about his strategy. Lendl said he didn't bother with all that sliding: Just set up and whack the ball. Look at the 1991 French Open final between Andre Agassi and Jim Courier, the last time two Americans played a European clay-court final: Not much slipping and sliding going on there! Courier defended that '91 victory in 1992 with one of the most dominant performances I've ever seen in tennis.

Anyway, I don't want it to seem like I'm saying it'll be Isner and Querrey battling for the Roland Garros crown in 2010, but I am extremely happy to see that actually getting out there and playing on the European clay can reap benefits. (And that I was right all along! : )

Photo: Getty Images

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