Aussie Open Round One Review: Gonzalez V Hewitt

January 20, 2009

by Long John Silver

In the end, Gonzo (Gonzalez) prevailed 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3. There are many types of tennis fans, some fans cannot watch their favorite player play (they are afraid he/she will lose, hence they record it and watch the match later if they know that their player has won already), some fans must watch their player play, and some others cannot stand to watch them play (if they are losing), but still do because the pain of watching them lose is much lesser than not watching them at all. This is the psychology of a typical tennis fan.

Me, I belong to the third category. If I can live every point and go through the ups and downs with my favorite during the match…then I am OK with the end result. For some weird reason, the fact that I lived every point with him makes it OK even if he loses, for I do get the feeling that I was there for him (not that a professional former world number 1 needs a shoulder, for his chances of winning equals the chances of losing every time he steps on court and he knows that).

The problem with Hewitt is simple, and it gets worse every year. His game is predicated on something that deteriorates quicker with time, than other skill sets in a tennis players’ arsenal would. His game has always been predicated on ‘SPEED’, ‘Counter-Punching’ and ‘Court Coverage’. Counter-Punching is a on speed, which recedes quicker with age, than any other skill set such as power of serve or forehand.

As brutal as it sounds, Hewitt is a bloke fighting with his medieval weapons of lance and spear, in a futuristic world of star wars and light sabers. The game has moved on – and has left him behind. Its’ not his fault, its no one’s fault – its life.

As he grew older, he lost half a step, and the wolves began to circle around. As dogmatic and fiercely competitive he is, no amount of human mental toughness and human intervention (coach Roche is one of the best going around) can bridge that gap between him and others who play the game now.Today, he took the first set 7-5, by playing in vintage game, he hung around till 5-5, then threaded the needle with a return winner, and a brilliant passing shot to take the only set point he needed to win the first set. The second and third set was when Gonzo imposed his monstrous forehand on Hewitt, leaving Hewitt with bits and pieces to pick up … 6-2 6-2. Hewitt became too predictable by serving to much to Gonzo’s forehand.

But you always know you have to put Hewitt away, he isn’t going to hand you anything, Hewitt started out the fourth well and ran out to a 4-1 lead, ended up winning it 6-3 with a brilliantly constructed point again. Point construction is his forte indeed, if he is given time.

Hewitt’s serve was off, way off today with ten double faults. At one point I claimed ‘He is serving worse than my grand-mum’ and later … ‘he is serving worse than my grand-mum’. Later I just learned (interview) that his left leg was not holding up enough to get up for those serves, he is coming back from a hip operation.

As the fifth set came around the long game at 1-1, Gonzo would save two break points and hold on to his serve. Gonzo was starting to cramp at this point, but he would run up to a 3-1 lead, only for Hewitt to break back for 2-3. I did think Hewitt returned very well, Gonzo’s groundies were starting to get a ragged a bit at this point, after he lost the fourth.

This was when Gonzo’s irked me a touch, he did nothing wrong and beyond the rules, but a player of his caliber I would think would do well not to call a trainer BEFORE the opponents’ serve. I am not questioning the authenticity of his injury, it was very hot in Melbourne, but calling a trainer before an opponents’ serve would throw your opponents’ rhythm off.

I am not sure about that, Gonzo’s Beijing incident with Blake, and calling the trainer just before Hewitt has just broken back at 2-3 in the Aus Open…I’ll leave the rest to your conclusion. A player of his caliber may be should think more? (Anyone?)

Hewitt was broken, and Gonzo served the next game out to love (0), to take the fifth 6-3. I am torn right, one perspective apprises me that Hewitt is fighting with medieval weapons in Star Wars Age, hence his effort if anything must be commended more, the realistic part of me voices ‘what difference does it make … you lose – you just LOSE’

With another mediocre season, I don’t see Lleyton sticking around for much longer. I threw things at the television, swore very bad at the television, spoke to all of my lovely mates in during the match (especially Bissy) … drank copious amounts of coffee, berated myself and Lleyton mercilessly for missing easy forehand mid court balls at 2-3 in the fifth … during the game.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao: Perspective and Prediction

December 14, 2008

by Luis Reginaldo Medilo… Manny Pacquiao’s spectacular victory over the Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, has the boxing public salivating at the prospects of former multiple-division world champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. challenging Pacquiao for pound-for-pound supremacy. Pretty Boy Floyd retired from professional boxing on June 6, 2008, but many pundits don’t take his retirement seriously.

Many boxing analysts deem Mayweather’s retirement as only temporary and it’s only a matter of time before something (or someone) whets his appetite for prizefighting. Pacquiao’s scintillating defeat of six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya is just the perfect motivation to coax the Pretty Boy from his self-imposed hibernation.

The “triangle theory” of boxing may not be applicable to everyone involved in the art of pugilism and has become the downfall of many a boxer. However, seeing Pacquiao utterly demolish De La Hoya makes one wonder if Mayweather’s close victory over the Golden Boy is any indication of the Pacman’s supremacy over the Pretty Boy, at least in the pound-for-pound sense.

Mayweather has indicated that he is willing to come out of retirement and face Pacquiao, and for good reason. Manny Pacquiao is the biggest threat to Mayweather’s legacy as the best fighter of this generation.

In fact, some boxing analysts and fans think that Pacquiao has the tools to put a blemish on Mayweather’s perfect record. The Pretty Boy would love nothing else but to prove that he is still the best fighter of the last 10-20 years by defeating his closest rival for that honor.

Should the fight happen (and most likely it will), what are possible scenarios and who will emerge as the victor? To do that, an in-depth analysis of both fighters’ strengths and weaknesses is in order.

Let’s take a look first at Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs), is considered as the best defensive genius in boxing since Pernell Whitaker. Mayweather’s specialty is firing combinations from long range and using his exceptional footwork and speed to avoid his opponent’s firepower.

Although Mayweather is an expert at defense, it’s a mistake to underestimate his offensive arsenals. The Pretty Boy is a master at slipping punches with laser-like accuracy. Add to that his awesome technical abilities, versatility, speed, stamina and defense, and you have the perfect fighter who can pose serious problems to sluggers like Pacquiao.

On the other hand, Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) is an offensive fighting machine who overwhelms opponents through blistering hand speed and firepower. His defense is somewhat suspect since he is a “hit me and I’ll hit you harder” kind of fighter, but his last fights against bigger opponents have shown that he can deflect or absorb heavy punishment.

To defeat Pacquiao, Mayweather has to implement all the techniques in his book, especially defense. The only way to control Pacquiao’s aggression is through perfect timing and counterpunching. When and if Pacquiao manages to launch those deadly combinations, it’s not farfetched for Mayweather to resort to grappling, holding and other “dirty” tactics to frustrate the Pacman.

To defeat Mayweather, Pacquiao has to pressure him from start to finish, allowing Pretty Boy little space to launch his long-range bombs. Pacquiao has to force Mayweather to the ropes and at the same time, move away quickly to avoid deadly counters.

It’s an interesting scenario of speed versus speed, offense versus defense, but in the end offense will prevail. Manny Pacquiao will force Floyd Mayweather, Jr. into a slugfest the entire fight, and prevail in a close but convincing unanimous decision.