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WTC2011: Thursday night summary

Who else but Team USA and SuperMac, taking the trophy on a countback after a 6/6 tie with Asia Pacific.
13 January 2011, by World Tennis Challenge

It was an hour or two at best before play started, that the rains finally abated.

Steady and persistent all day, the court sweepers were out in force, a multitude of towels mopping up the last of the drops that threatened to derail the final evening’s play.

Anticipation was put on hold and the legends were brought forward to kick off the night’s proceedings, two pairings who could not have been more different.

Pat Cash and Henri Leconte, the great entertainers for whom losing is a mere inconvenience, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl who simply love to win. 

Neither coupling will have been happy to wait but shortly before play was due to begin, the rains returned.

This time the wait was short, Cash and Leconte heading out to start shortly before 8pm.

Perhaps they needed to get rid of some excess energy after the delay. Three games in and Cash swopped sides, chasing Leconte around the net as the Frenchman donned a chequered black and white headband, Cash’s longtime trademark.

Silly, yes, somewhat surreal, yes, but brilliantly funny and the crowd lapped it up.

Leconte proceeded to play out a range of sublimely accurate and often achingly funny impressions of McEnroe and perhaps caught up by the appreciation around him, let his game slip somewhat, Cash the victor 8/4.

Mac and Lendl meanwhile arrived on court, bristling, gladiatorial and prepared to slug it out.

Mac though camewith a finesse and concentration redolent of 30 years ago. His serves hit the lines and when they came back his volleys ensured they didn’t return a second time.

He was imperious throughout and not beyond the occasional, and cruel, drop volley to force the iron man to scramble at his will.

Lendl edged his way back in, power, accuracy and a confidence borne of years of winning but Mac was the man, 8/4 and worth every point.

Next up, debutant Kei Nishikori, recovered from a bout of food poisoning, set out to make his visit to Adelaide an experience to remember for the right reasons.

Perhaps new coach Brad Gilbert had spent his unexpectedly free days studying Michael Llodra, because the Japanese youngster tore into Llodra  to take a 5/1 lead,  his style of play immediately identifiable with the Nick Bollitieri Academy of his youth, hard running, swishing ground strokes and a refusal to concede.

Llodra meanwhile , the best player this week, fought back, wonderfully stylish and a joy to watch. Maybe he had half an eye on Melbourne, Nishikori seeing the match out 8/6. Two very good players.

Last up, the doubles and an absolute treat that descended into a good humoured farce of skill and style, players swopping courts, into the umpire’s seat and lapped up by all.

And the week’s winners?

Who else but Team USA and SuperMac, taking the trophy on a countback after a 6/6 tie with Asia Pacific.

A wonderful, wonderful few days.

Results

Court v1: McEnroe def. Lendl 8/4

Court 2: Cash def.  Leconte 8/4

Court2 : Ljubicic def.  Harrison 8/7 (7/4)

Court1: Nishikori def. Llodra 8/6

McEnroe and Harrison def.   Ljubicic and Bahrami 6/5 (7/0)

Cash and Nishikori def.  Llodra and Leconte 6/5 (7/5)