Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brilliant Phuong hammers Hai

Hoan Nguyen
Photos courtesy of Minh "Creative" Tran

Phuong produced a magnificent display of clean hitting to defeat Hai 6-2, 6-1 in the Vietbay quarterfinal.

The youngster came out with full confidence to break straight-away in the second game and though Hai pulled it back a bit in the fifth-game, it was not enough. Hai was never treading in calm water. Phuong had him on the back foot, taming his usually deadly slices without much bother and dominating the rallies. He quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead. There were moments when Hai’s play was reminiscent of the player he‘s known for. Unfortunately those were very brief. There were far too many errors coming from his racket in the first set. After breaking Phuong to make it 3-2, he surrendered the next 4 games to lose the first set.

As Phuong’s (Stanford) box went wild, the opposite box looked perplexed.

They have every reason to feel so. As it turned out, the second set was more of the same. Phuong soon had a break point after an uncharacteristically lazy forehand from Hai that landed between the tramlines. And he did not miss the chance. If anything, it’s Hai’s lack of fluency that was overriding everything. As he successfully held the fifth game and got on the board for the first time in the second set, there were a big cheers from the crowd. But the prospect for him was as gloomy as the sky of Stanford as it’s turning dark.

Phuong breezed through to a 6-1 win in the second set, ending Hai’s title run.

Hai’s look was full of disappointment; and so were his fans. It just was not his day—a bad day at the office that he probably would just quickly want to forget.

Such is the degree of uncertainty in every match, that no matter how much you firmly believe in someone or yourself, it might be better to prepare for the worst. This is professional tennis—it’s tough; and the players know this-- they deal with it in and day out.

Champions often rise from the ashes and pressure is a privilege. The tennis Hai has produced this past fortnight is certainly something he should be proud of.  Champions also take chances. Who will take their chances and claim the first ever Vietbay title?

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