Sarasota Open: Twilight Zone Match Arguello vs Giron

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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.

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  • scoopmalinowski · April 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

    RIP Jim Pierce. The father and coach of Mary Pierce who won the French Open and Australian Open.

  • scoopmalinowski · April 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Jim Pierce passed away in Bradenton yesterday.

  • Doogie · April 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm


    I watched this match too (on stream of course) and also could not believe what I saw. Both players made underhand serves (succesfully!). As u wrote a drama on tennis court and a must see for all who loves the in-fight on tennis court.

    I was stunned and laughed too.

    Only difference to your report: Imo Arguello did not fake. Giron was just dead in the end and lost the match due to this. For me Giron was injured on shoulder too because he could not serve from 2nd set.

    Great match report because my friends did not believe was I told them :))

    Thx for conformation :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 18, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Wow i forgot about those underhand serves. A lot by both players too. No doubt Arguello faked. He won today in 3 vs Harrison the younger.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 18, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Doogie, Arguello faked it. Argentines like to do that. Remember Coria???!

  • Doogie · April 19, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Coria was probably the most known and successful faker all time.
    My problem with him was that I liked his game style a lot so I could not dislike him although he was an unfair sportsman.

    Anyway was so happy for Gaston Gaudio to win their biggest match (French Open Final) in an epic 5 setter.
    Gaudio had his mental problems but was such a nice and friendly guy with one of most beautiful backhand stroke all time!

    Did u see Arguello – Harrison?? After what I saw from Arguello I had doubts that he could play?!?

    You were prob right about his “show” vs Giron.

    Thanks for your match reports from Sarasota

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 19, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Youre welcome Doogie thanks for supporting our site. I missed Harrison vs Arguello because i was playing. But i did see Arguellos pre match hit and he was running around on court 100%.

  • Doogie · April 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Welcome – would like to post more often but coming home from work and 2 daughters life is difficult sometimes :)

    I am a daily reader and our discussion forum here is very informative and funny!

    Btw I was really really impressed by Tiafoe – he has such fast ground strokes and he is very athletic. You will see Tiafoe will lead the young US guys soon (will get better than Fritz, Donaldson and Harry)

    This kid has all abilities!!!

  • Chazz · April 20, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Tiafoe is the real deal. He might have the biggest upside out of any NextGener based on already having good mental/physical strength and only turning 19 a few months ago.

  • Hartt · April 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Further to the earlier discussion about on court coaching, Paul Annacone talked about it in the latest SI tennis podcast. Annacone said he was once in favour of it and, surprisingly, said he had even used it with Pete Sampras in the early 1990s. Sampras, however, did not like it. Now that the WTA has used OCC for a while Annacone has changed his mind. He thinks it rarely adds to the viewer’s experience, and that tennis is about the players, not the coaches. In the podcast he had earlier talked about how great it was that tennis players had to problem-solve on their own, under the incredible pressure of Wimbledon, etc.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks Doogie; Yes Tiafoe is a great player already and a strikingly impressive physical specimen. I spoke with his fitness coach who used to work with Sock for the last three years and got Sock into top shape but they parted ways and he was hired by Tiafoe. His name is Kinney. He said Sock was in very mediocre shape in his first ATP years but he changed that and got serious between off season three years ago. He said Sock has incredible talent and strength and it’s all up to him how high he wants to go, ‘Its all between the ears.” Kinney said Tiafoe is a very hard worker and he wants it, just sometimes he has to be pushed, but he does put in the hard yards. The fact that Tiafoe slugged it out toe to toe with prime Federer in Miami bodes very very well for Tiafoe’s future. Tiafoe’s potential when he gets more experience and in better shape is absolutely thrilling to ponder.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hartt; Did Annacone share any details on what kind of advice he might have given Sampras? That’s one thing I would really like to know. What could Annacone possibly tell Sampras to do???

  • Hartt · April 21, 2017 at 7:31 am

    No, he didn’t. He did talk about both Sampras and Federer and about coaching in general.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 21, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hartt; I would be very interested and curious about what Annacone could have possibly said to coach or help Pete or Fed – Those two knew how to play the sport of tennis (chuckle) and did not appear to have any significant upgrades while Annacone was their coach -

  • Hartt · April 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    But late in his career Sampras tried to do without Annacone and had to bring him back, so Annacone must have had some value!

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Hartt; I wish Annacone would reveal more, he seems so careful with anything he ever says about Roger and Pete. Do you notice that?

  • Hartt · April 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I had not noticed that, but imagine you are right. In the podcast he only said things about them that I already knew, such as Pete was totally tired of the celebrity, travel, grind, etc. when he quit. Sampras talked about that in his autobiography.



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