It was a hot day at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington DC. This is the main tennis event in Washington DC, and it's always manages to find itself scheduled on a hot week in July or August. Last year, Roddick won this event over James Blake. Blake recently beat Roddick in the RCA finals. Roddick has been somewhat off his game this year, and recently hired Jimmy Connors to help fix it up. Generally, my sense of Roddick is that he has a nice serve, but the rest of his game and focus needs help.
Unless you follow tennis, you may not know who Jan Michael Gambill is. These days, the top of American tennis are filled with pretty boys. James Blake and Andy Roddick are athletes that could do some modelling on the side (and have). Jan Michael Gambill is the other guy, except results-wise, he hasn't been doing so well.
Indeed, it was a surprise to see him today in the qualifying rounds. It turns out that Gambill hasn't played on the tour in some eight months due to a tendon injury in his shoulder. He had to play two matches on Saturday and play a match today.
I joined Adam and his buddy Michael today at the site. This is the qualifying round, but you can often get a glimpse of the top seeds practicing. Today, James Blake, Andre Agassi, and Andrew Murray were on court. Murray, a British player that's seen as the new hope (replacing Tim Henman) was hitting with Agassi. It seems that Murray has hired Brad Gilbert, Agassi's former coach, to help him out. Blake was hitting around with Mardy Fish, who I've vaguely heard of, but not much more than that. As with many people on the tour, Mardy Fish has a website.
Many of these players won't play until Tuesday or so, so it's nice to see they come out to practice on a Sunday.
While Roddick is scheduled to play, he has said he may drop out of the tournament. He wasn't out practicing, suggesting he wasn't at the site yet. Lleyton Hewitt was spotted earlier in the day.
They had scheduled Jan Michael Gambill (named after the actor, Jan Michael Vincent) for the central court. He was scheduled to play Italian, Andrea Stoppini. While the match stayed pretty close throughout, it just seemed that Gambill was struggling just a bit. Gambill can hit serves at world class speeds, nearly 130 mph or so. However, Stoppini, whose serves generally only topped at 120 mph, had an easier time holding serve throughout.
Indeed, Gambill often struggled with Stoppini's off-pace second serve, seemingly unable to deal with his kick. Also, Gambill seemed to struggle to chase down shots. Stoppini's forehand appeared much more powerful that his backhand, and he'd aim it to Gambill's backhand, which he often failed to chase down. Gambill also seemed to lack steadiness hitting shots, as he made numerous errors.
Even so, the match was pretty close. The first set went to a tiebreak. The second set went to 7-5. Stoppini won both sets and is on to the main draw. If Gambill is to make a full recovery, he needs to get back more footspeed, and to control his shots better. He played fairly flat shots and seemed a touch slow, perhaps the result of two matches played the previous day.
Here's to a speedy recovery.
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