Friday, October 19, 2007

Madrid Exclusive: A Day at the Masters

Troy's live in Madrid giving us the play-by-play with his always-witty commentary:

Tennis balls in Madrid are big. So big that they need large Sony Ericsson WTA Tour labels and their own velvet ropes.

Madrid is wrapping up the first of its two big tennis 'balls,' and today its host left the party early. In fact, today was a day of grand exits and entrances. Let's review:

Novak Djokovic entered the semifinals with a convincing win over Mario Ancic. He rarely seemed threatened and despite an awkward landing on his foot that resulted in medical timeout, he closed out the match with ease. As he moves forward, we can wave goodbye to any clear idea of the world's second best player.

As we know, Rafa exited the Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid earlier than anyone (here) expected. The MMMM's pride and joy didn't leave them without a few words on his regrets and overall disappointment with his performance. Surprisingly he was in good spirits during the press conference. He cracked jokes and seemed at home and at ease with the Spanish press. Although its so hard to tell - emotional subtly is definitely his strong suit.

Good-bye Rafa. Hello to the Nalbandian we once knew. It's hard to argue with David's performance today. You may think the match was closer than the score indicated, but it wasn't. The slimmed-down Argentine played flawless tennis when he had to and even when he didn't, too. I had never seen him smile until today during his post-match comments. He should enjoy it while it lasts; I'm sure he has Federer at the back of his mind. (Nalbandian next plays Djokovic in the semis, but could face Federer - whom he beat at the Masters Cup in '05 - in the final.)

Federer made his way to the semis with a straight-set win over Spain's last hope, Feliciano Lopez. In typical Federer style, he has cut himself an easy path through the draw. He steamrolled who everyone thought would be his biggest pre-final hurdle, Guillermo Canas. Although for some reason Willy seems less than intimidating

All photos by Troy Venechanos.

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