The Rule of Pairs

Kohlschreiber d. Hewitt, 7/6 6/3

Tsonga d. Nadal, 6/7 6/4 6/1

Roddick d. Verdasco, 6/2 6/2

The best day’s line up since yesterday provided some better play, and an uneasy sense of things happening in pairs: both defending champions went out, two Brits made the last four at Queens, two Germans made the semis in Halle, two Frenchmen impressed mightily, and two things happened that haven’t happened in a long time, namely that Rafael Nadal lost to someone other than Novak Djokovic, and that Andy Roddick played imposingly well. These goings-on all interlock, which may seem cosmically significant, but isn’t.

Lleyton Hewitt fell to Philip Kohlschreiber, a victory for German patriots and aesthetes and lovers of tremendous ball striking, the last of which includes Hewitt. It somewhat eases the pressure on the Australian. He now has no titles to defend, and courtesy of his busy schedule of surgery and aborted comebacks he won’t have a top 100 ranking to worry about either. Somehow, in spite of it all, he still believes he’s a chance at the majors – a living advertisement for psychotically positive thinking – though it’ll be interesting to see if he still believes it whilst submitting to Qualifying, and after he has cleared 30.

Andy Murray has come out this week and decried the slowness of the Queens grass, which as an assessment hardly gels with my overall viewing experience. It seems pretty slick to me, although that impression may partly owe to how poorly some players are transitioning from the clay, or just how rubbish they are on grass in the first place. Either way, it is clearly too fast for real tennis, and therefore for Fernando Verdasco. Fortunately, Roddick was unreal, for the first time in years.

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