By Jill Neuharth
As I mentioned on Sunday, the grounds at the Newport Casino remind one more of England than New England except in one respect, the weather. The sun was shining, the temperature was bearable and the humidity was low. Excepting a bit of wind later in the day, it was just perfect for watching a match. Good thing there were matches aplenty; five singles and five doubles were played today.
Prakash Amritraj notched a win over Joseph Sirianni while his father, legendary Indian player Vijay, cheered from the sidelines. He had to cheer loudly to be heard over the crowd on center court watching Taylor Dent attempting a comeback against Canadian pretty-boy Frank Dancevic. Frank doesn’t strike me as a pretty-boy name; like say for example, Taylor? Dent gave it a valiant effort but he won’t be going home with the prize. No big deal says Taylor, “a year ago they told me I wouldn’t ever play tennis again.”
Sure, he would have like to win, but he’s only been back for three weeks. He admits that his fitness level is not up to the other players and that it will take a lot of hard work on his part. He is willing to do what it takes even if it means starting again at the challenger level.
Following Dent on the court was a David and Goliath match-up between two close buddies: Isner and Levine. Both traveled up here together yesterday and got the text message at the same time that informed the friends they would have to face each other in the first round. The 6’9″ Isner was no match for the 5’9″ Levine who beat him in straight sets. If you remember my lesson from yesterday, you will recall that the ball here hardly bounces. Isner’s height was apparently detrimental to his game. Sadly Levine didn’t have a chance to force a bet on the match with Isner before the contest. The stakes might have been too high anyway. The loser was to have donned the apparel of the winner’s alma mater, in this case, Florida Gators. Therefore in the future if you ever see Georgia alum Isner wearing a gator hat, you know why.
The first doubles match of the day featured the Thai wonder-twins the Ratatouilles, or maybe it’s the Ratiwatanas. One of those is a food isn’t it? Anyway, it’s the third time I’ve seen them and I still do not know who is who. The only difference between the two is that one wears a yellow Live Strong Bracelet. That’s the ONLY difference. So I started asking around to officials, linesmen and even other doubles players. Nobody else can tell the difference either. What I do know is that one has a stronger serve than the other and if they, say, forgot to alternate their serves, no one would be the wiser. They didn’t fool the team of Peya and Petzschner who trumped them in straight sets.
Paul Capdeville seems to have now gotten the memo about the court surface as he and Navarro defeated Kunitsyn and Spadea. Or, rather, I should just say Kunitsyn as it didn’t appear that Spadea was really playing. Maybe he should just stick to singles on grass. Vince might also be tired from having to live in the lobby of the Hyatt. The hotel was full this weekend and was short on rooms Sunday. Perhaps they forgot to check him in. He looks like a homeless guy staked out on the couches every time I walk through.
Later on, Bopanna and Qureshi knocked out defending doubles champion Jim Thomas and Tripp Phillips. Amritraj and his partner Gilles Muller, who lost in singles this morning, took out Americans Scott Lipsky and Colonel Sanders look-a-like David Martin. Perhaps David is hoping for a Kentucky Fried Chicken sponsorship. If that does not work out, he could just grow it a bit longer and then get an off-season job at Macy’s as Santa.
Last but not least on center court was the match everyone waited to see. The intriguing Battistone brothers made their ATP debut against doubles pros Ashley Fisher and Rik De Voest. The brothers easily took the first two games with Brian’s jump serve leaving a stunned De Voest and Fisher looking like deer in the headlights. The experienced duo quickly recovered and took control of the match. Both sets went to a tiebreak but the experience of De Voest-Fisher ultimately prevailed. They won 7-6 7-5. Not a bad effort for the losers who played a great match much to the delight of the crowd.
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