Love hard court tennis, just love it. Hate playing on it at age 48 but love watching it because there is no advantage whatsoever to any player, it simply comes down to who you are as a player and what you own as far as brains, shots and tactics are concerned.
In 2004 and 2005 our very own Lleyton Hewitt expressed his concerns that the hardcourts at Melbourne Park were in fact too slow for his liking and he wanted them quickened up. I found that rather interesting to say the least. Try Roland Garros Lleyton, that's slow Champ.
With new balls every seven games and guys like Roddick in the draw back then I doubt that it was really that slow as far as a surface was concerned, I think it was more about some personalities believing they were bigger than the game itself. Tennis is like that, full of self centred egotists rearing their egos on a regular basis, nature of the sport.
For the record, Lleyton never won the Aussie Open, the closest he got was the final against Safin in 2005 where the big Russian blew him away after a slow first set. Court must have played too slow.......
So to this year, how does a guy ranked 50 plus beat the World number 1 ? This was the same guy who lost to Rafa in Brisbane around ten days ago, 1-6, 1-6. Mischa Zverev is a tactical genius or is he just a smart tennis player ?
I guarantee you he did some soul searching after Rafa belted him. 'If Rafa beats me 1 and 1 I have to change something against Andy. If I play from the back I lose 1, 1 and 1, if I serve and volley I may be a silly chance'. Maybe words to that effect anyhow.
That's tennis for you, it's a sport where you only get smarter with each loss. Winning brings contentment, losing exposes your flaws and teaches you how to become better. Losing isn't so bad, it can make you a good tennis player by the end of your days on court providing you accept that what you currently do is not good enough.
How did Mischa win the 'unwinnable' ? Well it has a lot to do with the surface for sure because a hard court makes you think about things to the extent that thinking becomes educational. If you think on a court you are respecting the game and everything that goes with it.
If you don't think then you are probably a one dimensional tennis player who will only go so far before you lose to the guys who own the grey matter required to go further in the sport.
Mischa Zverev gives every tennis player hope, just as Denis Istomin did when he beat Novak in round 2, they make us all believers that the impossible can be achieved in a sport that usually only delivers the usual suspects at the business end of proceedings.
A serve and volley game can only do one thing, it can bother a baseliner who does not like to be rushed into anything. Serve and volley was the only tactic that could have bothered Sir Andy and Zverev is smart enough to have learned from the Rafa match that things need to be mixed up particularly against a baseliner.
Plan B and C needs to also get a run at some stage when things aren't going according to plan. Hard court tennis is a joy to watch because only the smartest player can win on a surface that only rewards the player who is prepared to go into each match with an open mind and play the opposition on what they bring to the table.
You may go into a tennis match with an 'idiot proof' plan however when that plan gets ridiculed by someone who didn't read your script then it is up to you to tear up the paper and start thinking of what else you have learned from hitting thousands of tennis balls and what else you can come up with.
Rafa taught Mischa a big lesson just recently, it worked, Mischa should send Rafa a belated Xmas card, I reckon it's the least he could do......