***Not first match of 2015 – multi-surface contest vs Mike only a set old and to finish***
Dave Baker def Al Warwick 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Last year myself and old foe Dave battled away over many locales and on many surfaces for many months to try and co-ordinate a five set marathon, in which I eventually triumphed but perhaps had no right to do so.
Last week, with the events in Paris spurring us both into action, we hastily organised another encounter, which despite the foolhardy choice of a punishing five setter in oppressive heat, remained a richly rewarding fight – for three sets at least.
Against the Baker Warwick formbook, we both hit our stride relatively early on, with some good serving and sumptuous drop-shots and variation on display.
True, those second serves remained a tad pathetic and all-too attackable but for the most part, there was some rewarding exchanges and a tight first three sets with only a wayward volley or sudden string of hum-dinger winners deciding proceedings.
Then, disaster – having just won the third set with some aforementioned golden winners, I hit the proverbial brick wall. David, who looked to be wilting slightly at this stage, suddenly shifted up some gears himself and started dictating every rally with a slick mix of deep top-spin heavy groundies and some confident net-play.
I had no answer to such a level, and suddenly found myself trying to catch my breath as well as a break. A brief rally in the fifth set prolonged proceedings but the smell of inevitability was all too pungent.
Some cooler climes next time will be most welcome, and more of the same off the racquet too.