Tennis East Coast is pleased to present the first report from our guest contributor at the Western and Southern Open, Courtney Massey. Courtney is a college-aged tennis fan on the east coast and self-described “traveling fan girl” of the ATP World Tour. Her favorites are Ernests Gulbis and Latvian tennis players, not to mention many others. Massey plans to report from Cincinnati the entire week with gentle musings and stunning photos. Make sure to follow her on twitter @CM_TravelingFG and on Facebook.
2012 ATP Cincinnati Qualifying Highlights
Courtney Massey, Special to TennisEastCoast.com
Ernest Gulbis vs. Yen-Hsun Lu
It was a perfect day for watching tennis: the temperature was cool with just a slight breeze whipping around. As a person who hates the heat, I was soaking it all in. The first match of my 2012 Cincinnati tennis adventure was Latvian Ernests Gulbis competing against Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu. Ernests was first to enter the court but everyone quickly noticed that he was the only one. For an unknown reason, Lu was a bit late to his match. Of course, Lu finally arrived, wearing the same outfit as Gulbis and the match began.
Both players started by holding serve comfortably. Ernests was rewarded with his first break point at two all. After an entertaining rally, Gulbis hit a great lob to get the advantage. The energy of the players and crowd alike grew exponentially during that point. Unfortunately for Gulbis, the net blocked his path and the break points were no longer available. The service games were getting much closer. It was time for someone to get ahead and Lu graciously accepted. Or you could say Gulbis declined. Ernests double faulted and gave Lu the lead at 5-3. Lu was able to serve out the first set at 3.
The first game of the second looked promising. They had fought to deuce. Gulbis tapped the ball over the net for a great winner, giving him the advantage. However, this is where things started to deflate for the Latvian. He was broken early in the set and it was quickly becoming a comedy of errors. Ernests was able to hold at 1-2 and the crowd cheered to pump him up. Lu was very good at making his opponent run. All Lu had to do was keep the shots in play and let Gulbis give him the point. Ernests did have an easy service game towards the end, but the damage was done. Lu took the second set 6-2 and the match 6-3, 6-2.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t offer any excuses for Ernests on this match. Coming into Cincinnati, I worried about his shoulder. Shoulder pain has been a factor for him dating back to Indian Wells. He had taken a break just before this tournament and it seemed to have helped. Speaking to Ernests before the match, he said it was feeling better and sounded very positive. During the match, he never once showed signs of discomfort so I’m guessing the shoulder wasn’t what caused those five double faults and low serve percentage. As you can see, I am a huge fan of Ernests. I hope he can gain some success soon, but he will have to play a lot better than he did in Cincy.
Philipp Petzschner vs. Ivan Dodig
Second on the agenda was Philipp Petzschner and Ivan Dodig. Although I was familiar with both players, I didn’t have a preference for who I wanted to win. That was…. until I saw Petzschner. He was wearing knee-high socks like soccer players wear. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that too often and I couldn’t help but think, “Ok dude, you take this thing. You got your game socks on”. This all may seem a bit silly, but when it came to the match the socks really were the best thing. Petzschner was at the match physically, but in general, he was somewhere else. Dodig cruised through game after game. His first and second serve percentages were both very high. During the second set, Petzschner started to show signs of life but received the same results in the end. The final score was 6-0, 6-3.
Sidenote: Marin Cilic, Ricardo Mello, and Florian Mayer all stopped in to see this match.
Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Leonardo Mayer
This match started off on a funny note. The umbrella they were using for Stakhovsky was folded upward and they were struggling to get it back down. Finally they got it to go back to normal, but Stakhovsky had to assist the girl on where to properly stand.
At the start of the match, Stakhovsky was hitting the ball very well and Mayer was visibly frustrated. At one point, he asked for the towel in a rather aggressive tone. Stakhovsky was able to break Mayer but the lead didn’t last long. Mayer broke back to even up the score. After a nice winner, the crowd came around loudly for the Ukrainian. Stakhovsky got the break he needed and won the first set 7-5.
The second set did not help withMayer’s body language. He couldn’t help himself with arguing with the umpire for a few minutes. He did win me over a little bit by screaming “ah” in a high pitched voice when he missed a shot. A smile presented itself on his face. If you are going to be moody in a match, it helps if you are also being adorable with it. Towards the end, the crowd was loudly supporting their man and Mayer was getting annoyed. With the roar of the crowd around him, Stakhovsky broke Mayer for the final time. He was victorious, 7-5, 6-4.