Liveblogging an Evening of Tennis

Longtime readers know I play around with a lot of formats, like writing answers to "mailbag"-type questions not intended for me, and fisking. But my favorite conceit is probably liveblogging, and there's a lot of good tennis going on as I write this, all in Australia and New Zealand. The men's tour is playing an event in Auckland, the women in Tasmania, and both are playing events in Sydney and in Australian Open qualifying in Melbourne. Let's do what CBS used to call "live look-ins," shall we?

12:29 AM: We'll start with a women's quarterfinal in Sydney, where Romania's Simona Halep, ranked No. 2 in the world and pretty decisively, I would say, the best player on the circuit not named "Serena," is looking to close out Czech Karolína Plíšková, ranked in eleventh in the world. Plíšková has stayed tough against Halep, but lost the first set 6-4 and just got broken to love to fall behind 5-4 in the second. But Halep immediately drops the first two points while serving for the match, and starts yelling at herself.

12:33: Refreshingly, very little grunting from Halep and none from Plíšková. Plíšková completes her break and it's 5-all. The announcer tells me this has been four breaks in a row. Some people use the greater amount of breaks in women's tennis to denigrate it.

12:36: I praise Halep for little grunting and she immediately starts Seles-ing it. I want to emphasize this problem is not limited to women's tennis, and Spain's Marcel Granollers is the most granolling grunter in the sport.

12:38: Plíšková has game point to end the break streak and promptly double-faults. Deuce.

12:41: Plíšková ends up blowing three game points in all before Halep breaks her to go up 6-5. Five broken games in a row.

12:43: Halep with two unforced errors and guess what? 0-30.

12:45: As soon as I report that, Halep starts painting the lines and it's match point. Which Plíšková saves. Deuce.

12:47: Two unforced errors from Plíšková and Halep is through to the semifinals 6-4, 7-5.

12:48: Now let's go to Auckland, where an all-American second round match is playing out between John Isner and Sam Querrey. Isner is ranked 11th in the world and has been the top-ranked American for some time now. Querrey is destined to always hover between 40-70 in the rankings and has essentially stated he's fine with that, which has drawn the ire of hardasses who can't stand pro athletes who aren't balls-to-the-wall.

12:50: In contrast to the Halep-Plíšková match, there are unlikely to be many breaks in this match, as Isner is, for my money, the best server in the game, but with a shaky return game to say the least. It's the second set, 7-6(8) 3-2 and sure enough, the match stats tell me there have been no breaks in the match and only one break point.

12:54: A rare deuce brought on by a double fault from Querrey.

12:55: He cleans it up nicely and it's 3-3.

12:56: A close up of a fancy-looking meal being eaten at a front-row table by a fan. One of the commentators starts prattling on about how awesome the "corporate boxes" are, how that should be the model for every tennis tournament, and ... it's just the most bourgie thing I've ever heard anyone say. The first row seat with a table and a meal surely cost four figures.

12:58: Our second break point of the match as Isner starts to look shaky before getting us to deuce with an ace. Apparently, Querrey lost three set points in the first set tiebreaker. By the time I finish typing this, Isner finishes off the game and is up 4-3.

1:07: The commentator notes that Isner is hat-sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, which he informs the viewers is "massive" in the United States. Why, I was baptized there! 5-5 in the second set.

1:14: Yep, tiebreaker No. 2. 33 aces have been served in the match, 23 for Isner. The commentator notes the crowd is "fixated" but still "figuring out who to root for." Why should a New Zealand crowd have a strong rooting interest in a bland American vs. bland American match?

1:17: 3-3 in the tiebreaker and we haven't even seen a mini-break yet.

1:18: Querrey with the first mini-break and he's up 5-3 in the tiebreaker.

1:20: Querrey finishes off the set and we are headed to a deciding third set. While they resume their servebotting, let's check in on the men in Sydney and a 2nd-round match between Victor Troicki of Serbia and Spain's Tommy Robredo. Troicki is the third seed of the tournament and smoked Robredo 6-1 in the first set and went up by an early break in the second, but Robredo broke back and the second set is tied at 4-all.

1:24: I type that and Troicki breaks Robredo right back again, and will be serving for the match at 5-4. After the cringeworthy commentating of the Auckland match, I'm pleased to find a feed for this one that has no commentary.

1:30: Robredo squanders two break points to stay in the match and we're at deuce. Make that Advantage Troicki and match point, after an ace.

1:31: After a decent rally, Robredo hits his forehand into the net and Troicki moves on.

1:35: Looks like the Aussie Open qualifying I am keen to watch on YouTube is not available to 'Murican audiences. Let me see if a VPN does the trick.

2:03: After way too long trying unsuccessfully to find a U.S. stream or a working Australian VPN, I give up. In the meantime, Isner ended up beating Querrey 7-6, 6-7, 7-4.

2:04: And you thought the only notable athlete named "Puig" played for the Dodgers! Let's head back to the women's tourney of Sydney where 94th-ranked Monica Puig of Puerto Rico is on the verge of upsetting home-country favorite and former U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur, who's ranked 27th. Puig's up 6-4, 1-1.

2:14: Puig with the break to go up 2-1. The commentators for this match seem to be a British man and a heavily-sedated sex kitten of unknown European extraction.

2:17: Puig consolidates her break to love courtesy of two aces and two unforced errors from Stosur. Puig looks dominant.

2:24: Both players hold serve and it's 4-2 Puig in this set. Puig took a medical timeout but seems to have bounced back fast. She has 11 aces.

2:33: Both players continue to hold serve, and now Puig, up 5-4, will be serving for the match. She's only lost two points on serve in this set.

2:36: Good gravy, Puig with a SECOND SERVE ACE. Stosur fighting back though, 15-15.

2:38: Stosur would not get another point and Puig wins it 6-4, 6-4. It's late and my eyelids are getting heavy.

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