So, poor preparation my end by assuming that I'd be playing 4th seed Philip Worsdel today. WRONG. He was soundly beaten by Andrew Cresswell yesterday, so my scouting and homework on Philip was rendered useless!!
So Andrew and I took to the court at 1.00pm today, half an hour earlier than expected but I was grateful as whatever the outcome I could meet the family in time at Wembley Arena for a meal and the fantastic Harlem Globetrotters!
Staffordshire's Andrew Cresswell loomed pretty large opposite the net at several inches over 6 ft, but just a genuinely lovely guy, sporting and totally calm throughout what turned out to be some battle.
Andrew played a big serving front footed game, no hanging about and it was to be a contrast in style with me hustling balls down mixed with some serve and volley and attacks at net off the backhand slice. The first set was tight, I was tight and so was the score but I managed a break mid-set which led me to 5-3, 40-15 only to dump a sitter of a forehand volley into the net. Feeling the pressure of not being match tight, it was a classic choke and led to a mini collapse with Andrew reeling off 4 straight games to win the first set 7-5.
After giving myself a stiff talking to I found my game and rattled off the second 6-1 and felt pretty confident of rolling on through the third in the same way, but Andrew had other plans and played 3 games of super tennis to break me twice and take a 3-0 lead. It was do or die time for me and I dug deep from somewhere in the memory bank and slowly started to put some points together with a hold followed by a break back. Still, I was in deep trouble as Andrew, though it seemed visibly tiring now, stepped up to serve out the match at 5-4 but I managed a couple of clutch passing shots to break back and even things up for 5-5.
I felt pretty strong down the stretch (Hutch, I thought of our 'hill' many times!) and managed to hold for a 6-5 lead and then hustled like my life depended on it to force a final break and won the match 5 in the third. Length of match 2.5 hrs.
Superb match. Went through every emotion and feeling, amazing that the sport still conjures this all up at the age of 49!
Number 1 seed Stephen Jones tomorrow at 11.30 am in the semis.
Evo, I'll be there for a hit at 10.45 (no sign in until after this time!)
Just back now from the basketball, had a good stretch and foam roll, a few ibuprofen to hopefully do a job overnight and back at it tomorrow.
Hope to be able to take it on through to Saturday, let's see what tomorrow and this crazy sport throw up.