Winston-Salem Open Day 5: Casual Conversation

By Alan Wright and Matt Ankerson

Photos by Bowman Gray IV
Matt’s been doing most of the heavy lifting during our Winston Salem Open coverage, which makes sense, he’s the tennis expert. I’m just along for the ride. In the interest of his sanity, tonight’s my turn to run the show. Since, I’m no expert; we’re going to focus on the open from the casual fan’s perspective. You can get the all nitty gritty match play details from everyone else; today, you’re going to get a bit of color.

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The following is our running conversation during the Monfils/Roberdo match, which by the way, was a great one, if you didn’t see it, you missed out on some great tennis. I suggest getting out and seeing Monfils before the Open is over, it’s so much better live than sitting in front of your TV.

Alan: You ever just want to run out on to the court? How many Coronitas would it take to get you out there?

Matt: I am one that has never had the urge to do so; I seek no attention…ever. Plus I don’t feel like running around avoiding security even though I feel I could outrun most of them at this tournament.

Alan: Monfils is the man – there is a fine line between showmanship and being a hot dog, he never goes over that line.

Matt: I miss the days of Marat Safin. Monfils is a viable successor though; it’s nice the tour is not completely void of personality. Hey look, Monfils just busted out a dance during the change over.

Alan: It’s a lot of work taking care of my drink, it’s hard to focus. I’m constantly aware of it. Is it going to tip over? Is the beer to margarita ratio maintained properly?

Matt: The physics behind what’s happening with your drink is quite interesting. How does that small Corona bottle stay perfectly inverted like that?

Alan: I think at this point, the physics is failing, I’m pretty much drinking beer through a straw.

Matt: Did I just see Monfils hit a flying forehand….I am not sure I have ever seen someone jump straight up in the air from the baseline then take a whack at the ball from the forehand side. At least not during a match…usually this occurs when you screw around at practice. The ball landed out by at least a foot….interesting….

Alan: As much as the rain has been a focus of this tournament, night play has been fantastic: slightly breezy, mid 70s and low humidity. Tonight, is nothing like that, it warmer, sticky, and the bugs have made their way down from the lights and into the crowd. The combination of perfume and sweat is dizzying at times.

Matt: Some of those bugs I see hovering around the stadium lights could pass for birds.

Alan: Heat, sporting events and alcohol usually lead to rowdy behavior, I don’t know if this is a tennis thing or a southern thing, but tonight is the most respectful display of drinking I’ve ever seen. Everyone seems to be sticking to a two drink minimum. There are more people eating ice cream than drinking.

It’s been a long time since I’ve regularly watched tennis, the early 90s I believe. The biggest change, to me, besides the lack of diversity in playing styles, is the introduction of the challenge. It’s all but erased the player/ump arguments. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I’m sure there are reasons on both sides, but I also know I like the fieriness of a passionate argument. That being said, I don’t understand why more players don’t use the challenge. In the Querrery match up, both players used their challenges often. In both of Monfil’s matches, the challenges were almost nonexistent. There were a few key moments absolutely calling for challenges, not only because it looked like the umps missed the call, but strategically it would have been a good move for either player to break up the rhythm of the other. I guess that’s not how they do it in tennis?

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Matt: Monfils is laying into the Chair Umpire. He’s really letting him have it. That call was bad but why would he not just challenge it…after all he’s has three of them to use. Maybe, he’s channeling his inner Connors’ and will use his anger to fire up his game.

Alan: What do you think Connors and McEnroe’s career would have been like with the challenge? As much as I loved Johnny Mac, most of the time when he argued, he was wrong.

Matt: Mac would have found something to be pissed about….He would probably challenge the actual technology….

Alan: There is still so much to learn about covering an event like this for a professional news organization, for instance – as we discuss tennis and strategy, the old timer press professionals behind us are discussing the quality of the cookies in the media center.

Alan: My drink is like one of those nights when you decide to do something out of your comfort zone. You know what I mean?

Matt: I do….

Matt: Monfils looks great tonight, Robredo is a tough opponent. Both men are working hard for each and every point. Quality tennis all around!

Matt: Nice win for Monfils….now for the match up I had been waiting for all week – Monfils versus Verdasco…

Matt: Now that the quarterfinals are set, here are my predictions for the four we will see play on Friday – Querrey, Tursunov, Verdasco, and Dologopolov. It would be nice to see Sam Querrey take on Verdasco in the finals….That’s what I am going with….a Querrey/Verdasco final with Verdasco taking the 2013 Winston-Salem Open in three hard fought sets.

You, heard it here first folks, Verdasco takes the 2013 Winston Salem Open. Now get out and see it for yourself!


All photos copyright Bowman Gray IV 2013.


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