While my drive to Indianapolis today contained almost all of the oddities of any trip Clark Griswald ever made, it was refreshing to finally arrive at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. The event has a laid back feel. Like any tournament, vendors give fans chances to get free stuff that is laced with product advertisements. Beanbag toss games, free ice cream and a beer garden greet fans as they enter the facility. While a lot of ink has been spilled about a weaker than usual draw and shaky start for Indianapolis, the crowd was larger today than at the same stage in 2008. Given the weak economy and an injured Andy Roddick, whose image is on all of the 2009 promotional materials, this is a good sign for the tournament.
Singles Semifinals – Can Robby and Frank Survive in the Land of the Giants?
In brief, Robby Ginepri handled his tall opponent and Frank Dancevic did not. The second set of Querrey vs. Dancevic witnessed a run by Sam Querrey, a spirited comeback by Frank Dancevic, nerves on both sides, sun hindered serving and an odd finish. Querrey led 6-4, 4-0 only to see Dancevic break twice and serve at 4-5. Querrey raced to a 0-40 lead and 3 match points. Dancevic saved the first two with service winners, but at 30-40 a double fault ended the match. Each player struggled with bright sunlight serving on the less covered side of the stadium. I can attest that the sun was quite bright especially during the first semifinal. Therefore, Querrey’s quick loss of serve at 5-3 and Dancevic’s 0-40 start at 4-5 was not entirely unexpected. Each player mentioned difficulties serving into the sun in the post match press conferences. Both players emphasized how solid results this week boded well for the rest of the hard court Summer. Querrey’s runner-up finish at Newport coupled with his run to the final in Indianapolis is particularly promising. Querrey is crediting improved movement for these results.
Robby Ginepri’s backhand was superb in his 6-4, 6-3 victory over John Isner. I was particularly looking forward to this match in order to see and hear how hard John Isner serves. What impressed me more than sheer pace was how well Isner mixes up his service pace and placement. In Isner’s first service game, the Georgia Bulldog hit a 126 mph ace followed by 101 mph change up, a 113 mph jamming serve and a 116 mph ace. Isner routinely hits his second serve in the 110 mph range. He spins and places most first serves with 120 mph range speeds. Isner can however blast his serve when the need arises. I was impressed with how fluid and easy his service motion is.
Still, Robby Ginepri’s return game, court coverage and backhand were even more impressive. Ginepri read Isner’s serve well. At several key moments Ginepri’s court coverage and backhand down the line to take advantage of Isner cheating over on his backhand side made differences in the match. In the first set, Isner served at 4-5 and Ginepri stole the first point of the game with great court coverage. That point helped Ginepri win a 5 deuce game and the first set. Ginepri held serve quickly and jumped to a 15-40 lead. Isner did manage to hold, but the match was played on Ginepri’s terms from this time until Robby served for the contest at 5-3 in the second set. The final game of the match saw Isner attack the net several times and nerves also creep into Ginepri’s game. After 4 deuces and 3 break points, Ginepri claimed the match.
John Isner was happy with his result, but also owned the fact that recovering from mono has left his match conditioning in a less than ideal spot. Ginepri was hoping to recapture his 2005 form, Robby explained that he was happy to be in the final round and also felt he had yet to reach his best form. Ginperi’s ability to take the ball early helped in his semifinal victory and will play a key role in his chances to upset Sam Querrey. If Ginepri can work his way into enough return points, he will likely win Indianapolis for the second time in his career. Doing so will not be easy as Querrey has more game to back up his serve at this point than does Isner.
Final Prediction Ginepri d. Querrey 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
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