Stat based men's tennis articles
by Joel Mallett | 8 Jan 2012
I still can't believe I was granted a press pass into the Apia International Sydney. Anyway, I left Canberra by bus at 9am on Sunday morning and arrived at Central station in heart of Sydney at 12:30pm. There were patches of rain on the way up which gave me some hope that I could catch the end of the Bobby Reynolds and Benjamin Mitchell match.
But first I had to drop off my luggage at the hotel. It didn't take me long to spot my first pro as Victor Hanescu was checking into the Westin Hotel the same time as me. I made sure not to look at him much, but he looked at me a lot! Perhaps he was trying to work out if I was a fellow athlete. I definitely don't have the physique of a professional, but put me next to Brisbane semi-finalists Gilles Simon or Alexandr Dolgopolov and I wouldn't look too out of place.
After three more trains I arrived at the front gate and presented my media accreditation print out. A lady from Tennis.com (yeah, literally millions more views than my site) was kind enough to walk me all the way to the media centre, claiming that she will take a look at my site (if she remembers the name...). After being presented with my pass and meal vouchers, I raced over to court 5.
The court was jammed packed which surprised me given it was a qualifying match. I guess being a Sunday meant more people. I was only in time for the last game which I watched beyond the official spectator bounds of the court and over other viewers' heads. Mitchell, serving at 3*-5 15*-40, brought it back to deuce before double faulting on match point. Still a fantastic week for the fourth highest ranked teenager in the men's game, notching up his first top 100 wins. He convincingly beat Leonardo Mayer (ranked 78) and Mikhail Kukushkin (ranked 91) yesterday.
Kukushkin should've never even made it to the 2nd round of qualifying. Marinko Matosevic was up 6-1 5-1 in their first round qualifying match, and someone in the crowd today said he was also serving and up 30-0 in that 5-1 game. After Mitchell lost I grabbed a seat as another Aussie, Adam Feeney, was on court 5 next. An official went around and told each section of the crowd that the next match won't start for at least half an hour. Less than one minute later the players were walking onto court and warming up, I kid you not!
Feeney's opponent was Denis Istomin and it only took about two games to see the different calibre of these two players. Feeney was working overtime while Istomin looked like he was going for a stroll in the park. The video below shows their stroke technique. Feeney didn't appear nervous except for having to redo a lot of ball tosses (it was not a windy day). I left after the 6-3 set all but knowing Istomin would advance to the main draw.
I then went and explored the grounds. After going past a security guard (media pass required) and opposite the media centre, there are some stairs leading to a good comfortable view of court 1. I watched a bit of Stephane Robert versus Jarkko Nieminen. Robert was clearly giving a lot of effort, but Nieminen had both more power and consistency, at times hitting spectacular winners. Robert missed a straight forward forehand drop volley to hand the match to Nieminen 6-2 6-2.
While I was watching that match I felt a lot of eyes on me. After I went to the bathroom I was approached by a security guard and asked to leave. Oops! Turns out I was in the players' lounge - off limits to media. Yikes. I'm glad he didn't take my name or anything (just don't tell on me please).
Over to court 4 where Sweeting was playing Russell. This was the most interesting match of the day and so I've dedicated an entire article to it. Feeney and Istomin were still playing on the neighbouring court and I could hear the score being called. I was impressed that Feeney managed to force a second set tiebreaker. But Istomin obviously knew what he was doing as he dished out a bagel breaker.
Finally, I spent a short amount of time on centre court (a women's singles match) before returning to my hotel. Men's qualifying was wrapped up today and you'll almost never see four qualifiers with more winnable first round matches. Istomin and Russell both have clay courters in Pablo Andujar and Fabio Fognini respectively. Meanwhile Nieminen drew Aussie wildcard James Duckworth and Bobby Reynolds will play Sergiy Stakhovsky.