Friday, September 3, 2010

The Old School in the New World

Micheal Llodra's brand of artistic serve and volley tennis is tailor made for the faster courts in New York.

Most people didn't expect 30-year-old Parisian born Michael Llodra to brush aside physical specimen and powerful ball striker Tomas Berdych as if he were a unknown qualifier in the first round, but he did just that.

According to the statistics, the Frenchman has been to the net 75 and 59 times in his first two matches, and until his opponents (next round he'll face Tommy Robredo) can find a way to stop him, expect him to continue in perpetuity with his crowd pleasing kamikaze brand of tennis.

He hasn't been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam, but Llodra just may find himself outpacing his past results if he can continue befuddling opponents the way he has in his first two matches. Players don't get to play against the style very often, and when it is executed to precision, as Llodra has done by serving out wide and volleying with incredible precision, they often find themselves out of sorts, and desperate to find their rhythm.

If Llodra's run continues, fans are in for a very entertaining display of the type of tennis that we often find tennis purists clamoring for. 'What happened to the serve and volley?' they say. 'Why all this boring baseline play?'

If Mr. Llodra's tennis-as-art installation keeps running in New York, fans may very well get what they've been wishing for. He is a pure serve and volleyer who wields his racquet like an impressionist era painter. When pitted against a field that is littered with modernists who play a brand of tennis that is aided and influenced by all the technology and fitness advancements the new millennium, Llodra sticks out like a blue footed booby among seagulls.

Sometimes it pays to be different. Llodra is hoping that his serve and volley gallery stays open through the weekend, and if things go well, perhaps beyond.

While his works are on display, New Yorkers might want to pass on the Moma and Guggenheim and take the No. 7 train down to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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