Two and a half matches so far this year and there is hope despite what have been two losses from two so far.
David Baker def, Al Warwick 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
In another match over multiple meetings and a mixture of indoor and outdoor conditions, it was in the end a familiar narrative.
A thirst for the Big Winner still cuts short the rallies in these match-ups, with flair and variation replacing metronomic flat shots. The result is sometimes rewarding but often a pale imitation of what should be a better quality match all-round.
David’s net-play remains the most natural and thus effective – when it works, and there remains no better constructor of points amongst my regular foes, if the execution was there like, say a Rob Field then the result would have been more like our early days when David dominated.
That initial period of superiority over me still lingers in the mind like a spectre, and – despite more wins in recent years – I still am not used to being in a winning position against him.
Bad light would mean that this particular match actually resumed at 5-5 in the fifth on the final day – resulting in an inevitable anti-climax. The next match – a set apiece is already showing the benefits of a half hour of warm-up match-play, such was the quality eventually showed.
Bodes well for next time.
Rob Field def Al Warwick 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Nearing ever closer to the dreaded ‘all the gear and no idea’ syndrome – I rocked up in my new RF apparel with high hopes against this most awkward of opponents for me.
The court is so tiny when playing Rob, no option seems open and I panic – losing timing and any clear shot-choice. If – as in this case – my serve is on form then I can dig myself out of many a hole, but it is never enough.
The first two sets just weren’t any sort of contest – things improved greatly once the third set started and – arguably – Rob relaxed his intensity and tried some different approaches, which only sometimes worked.
Momentum swung my way and the quality improved a few notches, rallies were had and I was able to go on the offensive and hit some flat backhand winners (always so rewarding after an hour of slice defence).
But too little too late and the close contest last time (two tiebreakers) seems a long way away.