And if you don't get the joke in the title, I wouldn't blame you. No one at the 2012 Emmy's seemed to know what to make of the big-bellied buffoon and his nunchuks. You'd have to be a serious fan of “30 Rock” to get what Kimmel was trying to do with Tracy Jordan last night. But, removed from the lunacy of his show, Tracy simply looked like a bloated fool. In the context of the well-dressed White people, not even his frequently uttered “take it out behind the school and get it pregnant” joke would have worked. But I so like it for my discovery of Martin Klizan. His is the ultimate fusion of Djoko and Rafa's tennis games.
I first saw Klizan at the US Open this year and I was impressed by his spanking of Alejandro Falla. It was a decisive three-set win over the man who seriously threatened Federer at the Olympics. But flashes-in-the-pan come and go and I wasn't going to get all worked up over a single result. So I dismissed him from my thoughts, convinced that Tsonga would put him away in the second round.
And then he spanked Tsonga in four. I was stunned. But I quickly started making excuses for Tsonga who had been so utterly charming at the Winston-Salem Open, posing for photos with myself and a friend. No I am not sharing them, you'll just have to take my word for it. But anyone so deliciously sweet to his fans was surely deserving of a pass? After all perhaps his tank was just half-empty from playing so much Big Man Tennis against Isner. (Nope, still can't let it go.)
It didn't fully register when Klizan beat Jeremy Chardy because I saw nothing of that match. Neither man makes enough of an impression in the USA to get any TV coverage. And then he went out to Cilic who bageled him in the third set, and I concluded that he was just another upstart who had run out of steam.
I changed my mind when I saw Klizan playing at the St. Petersburg Open. Yes he won that tournament, and gained his first ATP title, which was impressive. But it was really the semi-final match against Youzhny that convinced me that here was a new talent and he was here to stay. Indeed, if the ATP is fair, Klizan should receive their Newbie of the Year Award. He has been that impressive in 2012.
There was nothing that Youzhny didn't do to try to win that match. His coach/putative father looked on forlornly as Youzhny found himself stretched this way and that by the 23-year-old, less experienced clearly, but more gutsy, more creative in his play, more lacerating with his forehand blows. It was three hours and fifty minutes of scintillating tennis. I did not miss a ball.
Klizan's game is still a work in progress. He too predictably serves down the line when in a hole. He favors his forehand but can mis-time shots on the backhand. He goes for the dropshot a little too predictably at times. He needs to get fitter and improve his endurance. Toward the end of the match against Youzhny, Klizan seemed to be cramping, although that did not prevent him from winning.
Despite the fact that he was last to finish on court – having gone on to play doubles after the almost four-hour semi-final match – Klizan was nevertheless favored to win the finals against Fabio Fognini. With a game that is the perfect blend of the best of Rafa and Djoko, Klizan easily spanked the Italian who irritated me with his lackadaisical attitude even as he amused me with his loud self-muttering, silly racket-throwing, and occasional looks of consternation at the man across the net.