Sarasota Open: Twilight Zone Match Arguello vs Giron
The wackiest match I ever saw happened today at the Sarasota Open. It was Facundo Arguello vs Marcos Giron on James Driscoll stadium court.
I didn’t see it all but I saw enough. Giron won the first set 7-5, though I did not see it. Arguello wont he second 7-5, which featured a long injury timeout at the end of the set which obviously froze Giron. Arguello was on his back being attended to.
There also was a loud argument between the umpire and Arguello I think at the end of the first set which I only heard because I was watching Kozlov vs Blaz Rola on the Firkins Stadium 2.
The third set turned into a circus. It was 2-2 and both players were cramping in the legs – or appeared to be cramping in the legs. They drop shotted each other. At one point they each drop shot each other on successive points, which was so funny that both players laughed as did the gallery. I never saw that happen before.
They both were acting like they could barely walk between points. But then they would run during points. Giron somehow forged ahead to 4-2. Arguello was really hampered, repeatedly rubbing his right thigh which was taped. And even limping almost as badly as the Peg Leg Pirate. Arguello would scream after losing points, I CAN’T MOVE! in Spanish. He genuinely seemed to be injured and very angry at the state of his handicap.
Then somewhere in the middle of the set Arguello even footfaulted on two consecutive serves. That’s right he lost the point because of a double footfault. I actually suspected he did it on purpose, to tank the point to contribute to the illusion of chaos on the court. There’s just no way a player could footfault on two consecutive serves on the same point.
Suddenly though, the match would change. Suddenly the supposedly injured Arguello, limping around like a one legged pirate, regained the full use of his right leg, without the aid of an injury timeout. And guess what? Arguello suddenly won four straight games to win the third set 6-4.
It was the wackiest drama I’ve seen in pro tennis in years. All I will say about it now is what two boxing world champions have told me about the mind games of boxing, which is tennis, as Tracy Austin once said, ‘Boxing is a fistfight without the fists.’ “Boxing is 90% bluffs.” And, “If you can bluff em you can beat em.”
I believe Arguello bluffed his way to beating Giron.
Stefan Kozlov won the first set against Rola impressively, cruising with incredible tough and placement of his shots, firing accurate winners and drop shots and good serving. Then in the second set, lefty Rola served better and began to trade better with Kozlov from the baseline, showing more power. Kozlov blew two break points in the middle of the second and then seemed to sag spirit-wise. He had blown his chance. Rola rolled to a break at 5-4 and then served it out at love for 6-4, including an ace on set point that Kozlov didn’t even move for.
Rola continued to gain more momentum in the third and got the break for 3-2 then it was 5-2 and Kozlov just could not change the tide. Rola finished it at 6-2.
But Kozlov got into the main draw as a lucky loser when Michael Mmoh pulled out with a left wrist injury which has been bothering him since Miami. Mmoh told me, while he was taking off the ice in the late afternoon that he expects to be ready for Savannah or Tallahassee and that he had taken his first cortisone shot earlier today.
Reilly Opelka then took on Tennys Sandgren on center court. David Wilson of the Bradenton Herald joked about seeing a pro tennis match between a six foot eleven player and a guy named Tennys. Tennys was down a break early but fought back and won the first set 6-4. Opelka earned the second set with a gutsy tiebreaker effort. To a third they went. Sandgren prevailed 7-5 in the breaker. 25 year old Sandgren (who played his first ever ATP main draw match last week in Houston after qualifying by beating Gabashvili) was just a little steadier from the baseline. Excellent win for the veteran American who is actually ranked a little lower than Opelka.
In a thrilling doubles match, Kozlov and Peter Polansky survived a match point vs Sekou Bangoura and McKenzie McDonald, when Bangoura netted a very makeable forehand crosscourt drop volley. Now Kozlov will play his doubles partner Polansky in the main draw.
James McGee scored an impressive win vs Bangoura in singles, in straight sets. After the match he was on the phone setting up an appointment to have a massage off site. I was surprised to hear that a post match massage could be so important but he said it is, and that all the top players do it and it’s good not only for the body but the mind.
I spoke with McGee about his practice session with Andy Murray for Facing Andy Murray and was very impressed by McGee’s intelligence and observations. McGee, if you remember, is a tennis legend after he finally qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw a few years ago and the victory celebration on court went viral.
Notes: I saw Martin Damm’s son Martin who is 13 hitting. The kid is about 6-2 and lefty and he absolutely crushes the ball. Damm told me he’s off to Mexico for Junior Davis Cup qualifying. Later on I saw young Damm speaking with his dad’s old partner Leander Paes. Paes is playing this week with Andre Sa. At his practice, Paes stopped to chat with Frances Tiafoe and appeared to be trying to woo Tiafoe as a partner for later in the summer.
Tiafoe hit with Robby Ginepri who is now coaching or co-coaching the young American who just finaled in the doubles in Houston with Dustin Brown.
Earlier in the day I saw Tennys Sandgren warming and he hit a kick serve that almost bounced out of the court, it hit the fence about two feet from the top.