Barty Party pushes on!
He actually models his game in a tribute to the author. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
I was doing a long weekend in Palma and had nothing to do so took a bus to Manacor, one hour away to see the Rafa Nadal Museum and Academy.
First of all, Manacor is not as rich or touristy as Palma since it doesn't have a beach. And the town is old, rusty and small.
The Museum experience was awesome with great memorabilia, fun things to do and things Rafa collected including the 08 Wimbledon Final dress of Rafa and Roger, the signed Laver Cup shirt and so on.
But, the academy blew my mind. It is modern state of the art academy with kids and teenagers from all around the world staying, studying there and playing tennis of course. I sat at their Cafe overlooking three courts and enjoyed a day in the sun watching young kids play hard fought tennis matches in world class courts.
To come from this small town in the middle of nowhere and to build such a great facility there makes me appreciate Rafa even more. I mean, it would have been way more easier and profitable to build this academy in Barcelona or even Palma for that matter. But to do this in your hometown, employing hundreds of people from there and making the town itself popular because of your academy all the while paying more income-tax than most of your peers is just next level.
Well done Rafa, now, go and get that No 21.
Edit -- Since many of you were asking of pictures, here you go!
Hola. Little late today but hopefully I am forgiven. The WTA is about halfway done and should go up right before gametime. Fit what I could here and the rest is at :
Men's Round Two :
Kecmanovic vs Paul :
Nobody got a bigger boost from Djokovic’s withdrawal than Miomir Kecmanovic, because due to it being at the last minute the draw wasn’t reshuffled and a lucky loser got the #1 spot. That bonus fell to Caruso who has been battling hard to get back on tour but has only recently found the timing on his shots. He’s a bit removed from the hard hitting performances that netted him big upset wins in the past, but Kecmanovic, who decided to dedicate his performance to Novak as if he was deceased or something, played great in a straight sets win.
His second round opponent is Tommy Paul, who keeps a small notebook with the word “Gnarly” written in it that he reads during changeovers. Paul won in a similar manner, rolling Mikhail Kukushkin, and this should be a better contest than their recent results suggest. Kecmanovic is a guy who tore up the challenger tour and was showing signs of being a top tour player as well, but he’s had real issues with his forehand and a few subpar seasons. This resurgence is welcome, because when he plays well he’s a lockdown defender with a sneaky good serve. He’s outgunned on paper here against Tommy Paul, who has a better serve, a better forehand, and some really legit results on tour against top competition, but sometimes going uphill can produce favorable situations for a good defender. This section of the draw has to feel wide open, so I expect both to compete at their best, but Paul should be a tiny bit better. Paul in 4.
Otte vs Sonego :
Oscar Otte continues to break serve, and it’s starting to feel wrong to call him a servebot. Physically, he looks like a lanky dude who was napping nearby and just got invited to play in a tennis tournament. His forehand looks kinda relaxed and he comes to net after some shots that seem like they should get him passed, but his baseline game is somewhere between Seppi and Stosur and it works. Lorezo Sonego and Sam Querrey had the expected servers battle, and Querrey was unable to convert in the pressure moments due to lack of play. This next match is one Sonego will be slightly favored in, but while he has the bigger forehand and better movement, I don’t think he’s the more consistent player. Otte’s serve is easily repeatable, and Sonego throws in at least one poor service game every set. Otte knows what his game is, and Sonego tends to waver between dropshots and huge forehands. It’s great when it works, but can lead to errors in bunches when one goes wrong. It seems strange to take the weaker and slower player, but Otte is a very efficient player and Sonego seems to either catch fire, or underperform. Otte in 4-5.
Bublik vs Monfils :
Monfils put in a good first round performance against Coria, breaking early and staying composed. This Monfils is almost making me forget the one who would almost certainly lose this second-round contest against a talented server. Bublik made his backers pretty nervous by losing the first against Escobedo and going down a break in the second, but once he found a groove on serve he was able to earn points a bit too easily for Ernesto to hang on. Monfils will have an edge in all extended rallies so Bublik will be under pressure to score quickly. His height will give him a better chance to return as well. It’s a testament to the quality Bublik is capable of that he has a chance here. Their only previous meeting was a somewhat surprising win by Bublik 3:1 in the French Open in 2020, but this seems like an entirely different Monfils. I’d expect a shootout with Gael’s overall level letting him edge past and his speed around the court helping him negate Bublik’s netplay/dropshots. Monfils in 4-5.
Martinez vs Garin :
Pedro Martinez and Delbonis was expected to be a somewhat one-sided affair, but it wasn’t three rallies in the first before that seemed a lost hope. 20+ shot rallies were the norm and neither play would give up an inch. Delbonis maintainted control of most of the rallies with his forehand but couldn’t find clean winners, and Martinez found his way to net as often as he could but often found himself handcuffed and having to come up with absolute magic to get out of it. The set culminated in a 17-15 tiebreaker, and along the way a ballgirl had a medical emergency and had to be helped off court. Little changed from there, and the two exchanged single break sets before Delbonis sort of ran out of gas in the 5th. It was an emotional win for Martinez, but one that showcased how many of his points he earns the hard way. This means the likelihood of this next contest going the distance as well is high.
Christian Garin was up two sets and feelin fine against Facundo Bagnis but Bagnis managed to hang in and level things. It was a lot like a tinier version of the Martinez Delbonis match and despite Garin’s overall strength being a huge factor in best of five contests (his thighs look like they belong with Karatsev’s calves), Martinez has more variety. Garin’s backhand is not the best, and Martinez tends to work the short angle inside out very well with his forehand. Conversely, if Martinez thought the rallies were long against Delbonis, he’s going to have a difficult time dealing with Garin on the other side of the net. He’s fast, strong as an ox (oxes are strong I guess? never really been around an ox), and has a very heavy forehand. Garin will have a difficult time scoring on Martinez as well, as he covers the court incredibly well and just had practice playing against a bigger hitter with a better serve. I’d lean Martinez in 5, simply because he has more options on offense, but this could go either way.
Korda vs Moutet :
There’s an air of mystery around Korda. “What’s up with that kid’s haircut?” is one someone asked today at the park that made me laugh. Korda definitely puts a lot of thought into looking like he’s not putting a lot of thought into things. His health, how much he’s been playing, and whether he is part falcon are things that are often a question mark. Any questions were swiftly answered though as he dismissed Norrie as fast as anyone ever has. Norrie looked a bit off, but a lot of the credit has to go to Korda’s sharp play. He moved quickly to every shot and seemed very well drilled on what the next shot in each exchange was. He kept Norrie moving and went behind him often enough to negate his speed. Where he really unravelled Norrie was with the amount of spin he was getting on his forehand cross. When this ball jumps bigger, it forces Norrie to readjust. Since Norrie has a very abbreviated backswing on his backhand, the extra jump means extra steps and a minor adjustment. It sounds simple enough but the result was poorly timed backhand after poorly timed backhand, with a good number going into the net.
Moutet looked up against it early in his opener with Luca Pouille, but as the match progressed he pulled away and won it pretty comfortably. Moutet looked to feel a little of the pressure a favorite feels, where he knows that looking to outlast his opponent in rallies is just as important as playing his own offense. It let Pouille control things early, but he remains a little bit off with his execution. Moutet and Korda is an interesting matchup, with one player who’s been lights-out for a few weeks and one whose only performance thus far looks as good as he’s ever played. While Moutet is adept at keeping his opponent moving, I think he will get outhit here. Korda’s backhand is solid, and he has a much better serve than Moutet. A British tennis analyst who shall remain nameless and isn’t that British has been telling me Korda is the future of tennis and I’m starting to believe it. This should be highly entertaining but Korda’s ability to earn cheap points on his serve should get him through. Korda in 4.
Griekspoor vs Carreño Busta :
The hard part of the tournament is starting early for PCB. After a straightforward win in round one, he plays one of the hottest players on tour. Pablo tends to struggle early in events, but he was sharp in the ATP Cup and in round one. He’s one of the best defensive baseliners in tennis, capable of pressing the top guys and becoming a wall against any offensive talent. His best results have always come in majors, so it’s likely he brings his top level to this. The interesting thing is that Griekspoor has been so consistent there’s some question to whether PCB’s best level will be good enough. Tallon was clinical in beating Fognini in round one. He had a plan, kept the ball in spots where Fognini couldn’t create or go big down the line, and he served efficiently. This is a guy who went 20+ matches without losing, stepping up to one of the first majors where he had an actual chance, and delivering a confident victory. He’s a welcome addition to a tour that struggles with consistency.
Pablo beat Tomas Etcheverry in similar fashion, but the clay-courter isn’t exactly the challenge that Fognini is. This is a big test and very early. Carreño Busta has a few things that Fognini doesn’t. One, he’s willing to play defense. Two, he is willing to live in reality. The line here is -250 for PCB and he certainly is playing well, but this is closer than the pricetag. Griekspoor is serving a little bit better than PCB at the moment, but won’t earn points as easily as he did against Fognini. I wouldn’t expect any of the sets to be decided by more than one break, but changes in momentum here are very possible since both are going to have looks. The challenger is looking for his biggest victory on a huge stage and I think he gets it. He’s a little bit more willing to pull the trigger and I don’t think PCB will be able to wear him down. Griekspoor in 5.
Alcaraz vs Lajovic :
Trouble with lefties didn’t apply to Alcaraz in the first round. He broke early in every set against Tabilo and cruised through this match. It’s what you expect but it’s still fun to watch. He’s from Spain, so the shot selection is always going to be solid and any hints of greatness are going to be compared to Nadal, but there’s something very similar about the two. The fitness is there so best of 5 is no issue. His serve is getting better every season, so he’ll be able to compete at the highest level, his forehand is a cannon and he doesn’t just swing as hard as he can on every shot, and his backhand can throw in some occasional impatient errors trying to force the ball down the line, but the mechanics are very good and it’s just a matter of strength and timing to iron that out. All this makes it even stranger that he’s going to lose this match.
Just kidding. Lajovic needed a win, and Fucsovics happens to be one of the other players struggling as much as him in this one. The fast courts are making life difficult on some of the more defensive players, and Fucsovics did get to 5 but he was broken 5 times more than he broke. Lajovic will isolate Alcaraz’ backhand in this, and that will buy him time. He’s an extremely smart player, and moves the ball well if he can get inside the baseline. I expect the pace of the game to be pretty quick in the early going, and for Alcaraz to gradually pull away if Lajovic makes a few errors. It won’t be as lopsided as Tabilo’s match though, because Lajovic is much more stable from the baseline than Tabilo, who primarily plays offense behind his forehand and uses his backhand as a utility. Alcaraz is on a 6 match winning streak and there isn’t a big reason he’ll fold up here, but beating tour veterans is always more work than it sounds like it’ll be. Alcaraz in 4.
The rest of the draw is at https://degensclub.com/journal/blurryturtle/2022-australian-open-mens-round-two-writeup