Now you know things in Paris are officially on the flip side when Andy Roddick is blocking serves back.
Sorry, but that's more shocking (but barely) than Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal begging out of their quarterfinals. Federer never got on court because of a bad back. ("Who cares anymore?" he's thinking. "I'm only number two.") Meaning, of course, that James Blake advances to the semis, because he would have beaten Fed anyway. (...)
Then Nadal lost his first set against Nikolay Davydenko and pulled out after complaining of pain in his right knee. With the kind of year Nadal has had, going deep in every tournament, this late-season injury is no surprise. But how about this exchange in the locker room between Fed and Nadal:
Nadal said: "I saw him in the locker room five minutes before my match and he told me he had a pain in the back.
I said, maybe we are both going to be going home tonight."
Hopefully, their injuries are nothing a little time off can't heal, because if Fed and Nadal aren't in Shanghai, it's got to be cancelled. It just wouldn't be right not to have two of main characters of the drama that's been men's tennis there. When they're out of a tournament early these days, the vacuum they leave behind is definitely felt.
But that's not to say the remaining cast of characters in Paris aren't interesting.
For example, registering high on the weird-o-meter was David Nalbandian beating Andy Murray in straight sets. Murray's been hot stuff this season, no doubt. But can anyone derail Nalbandian's annual end-of-season run? What is up with that? That man owns the month of October. How about getting warm a wee bit earlier, David? Like, when Grand Slams are being contested?
Then there was Roddick and Jo-Jo Tsonga, the other two players to actually get on court and complete their matches. And it was very Halloween-ny. I wouldn't have believed it unless I had seen it myself, but Roddick finished several points at the net. And it wasn't because he lost his string dampener. He was actually trying to volley. Emphasis on trying.
Then there was the bizarre half-hour conference over whether Roddick had any challenges left. The scoreboard said there were none. The ref said there was one. Chaos ensued. Seriously, if there's no disagreement between the players, why the delay in game? And I thought I was mathematically challenged.
Eventually, Tsonga came out on top in a third-set tiebreak. Looks like Tsonga's looking to salvage the rest of his season, and he's been impressive here. He wasn't at his best against Roddick, but he kept his head just a bit longer. As for Roddick, I'm just starting to feel sorry for him. What does this guy have to do to catch a break?
Hopefully, the answer isn't getting on a plane.