By Jill Neuharth
The sun was back today but not so the soft warmness of springtime in Spain. Chilling winds and intermittent clouds gave way for some brief periods of warmth both in temperature and in the fans hearts.
Hometown boy Alberto Martin, making a comeback from an injury-plagued 2007 season, beat Italian lucky Loser Matteo Marrai in straight sets 6-3 6-3. It was a refreshing win for Martin who has not won a tour match in exactly one year. Having the support of fellow Barcelonan, coach Marcos Gorriz, his brother, father and a multitude of friends on hand must only have sweetened the prize for Martin.
Two other fiery Italians took to the courts today, both triumphant over their adversaries. Filippo Volandri defeated Jurgen Melzer in straight sets in 1 hour and 6 minutes. Meltzer, despite having three weeks off with back and ankle problems put up a good fight and is confident that his injuries will not continue to plague his season. Later in the afternoon was the battle of the pretty boys, Australian Peter Luczak versus Potito Starace. The recently-shorn Starace has not fallen under the Samson curse, for his lack of long locks had not diminished his power in the court. The first set went to a tiebreak, but Potito got his groove back in the second taking Luczak 6-1.
In the Argentine heavyweight showdown, el muy gordo David Nalbandian squashed countryman Agustin Calleri. It took three sets but “el gringo” Nalbandian finished Calleri like a crema catalana. Calleri redeemed himself later in the day teaming with Italian Canoli Potito Starace in doubles to defeat the Ratiwatana wonder twins. Only a yellow bracelet can tell the two apart, but the less-savvy opponent might not notice if they switch while serving. It took a Thai break to finally break the super tiebreak where Starace and Calleri ultimately prevailed 17-15.
Once the sun finally went down and the temperature dropped below freezing, one last doubles match was set to go. Originally scheduled between Tipsarevic/Wawrinka and Haase/Karlovic, the match was postponed due to the withdrawal of Tipsarevic due to an ankle injury. The popular Serb played early afternoon against fireball player Ernests Gulbis, and he showed up for the match in fine form with his trademark breathe-right strip over his nose but without his horn-rimmed glasses. Perhaps that’s what caused the ankle-damaging stumble. The team of Ancic-Zverev was the slated replacement team. Ancic had to first play his singles match against Andy Murray before thinking about the doubles match. Meanwhile Haase and Karlovic sat around all day waiting for their turn. It finally came at about 8pm when after a “suitable rest” of 1-½ hours, both teams took to the court. Ancic was on his game not once but twice today, victorious in both singles and doubles.
Tomorrow the Spanish unleash their top guns with Nadal, Robredo and Ferrer all taking to the courts. The weather might be forecast for chilly temps but the Spaniards are sure to heat it up.
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