Hello My Friends!
Sorry for not writing sooner, but things have been moving quickly here in Philadelphia. The Final Eliminator is in full swing, and it has been an intense few days. I have been playing well and find myself with a 6 sets to 2 lead going into the final day of play. This means I only need one more set to win the match! Below are my thoughts on each of the first two days matches.
Day 1 Sets 1-4
Day 1 of the Final Eliminator saw a very tense start from both Steve and me. It’s understandable as the pressure is on to make it through to the WC, but we both needed to overcome it as quickly as possible. I managed to find my groove first, which allowed me to take control of the first set. I did my best to start quickly and took the set 6/3. The second set was much the same, I was serving railroads and trying my best to keep Steves offense in check. The game plan was working, but he was starting to get more aggressive with his returns. I managed to keep the lead the whole set and grabbed it 6/2. The third set is where everything went sour. We battled the entire set, exchanging games before I grabbed a 4/2 lead. Steve fought back to 4/4 before I grabbed a 5/4 lead. I had a set point which I couldn’t convert, and Steve capitalized to take the game and then the set 6/5. This meant that I really needed to regain focus for the fourth set. I was 2 sets to 1 up, and that fourth set became one of the most important of the entire match. I tried my best to focus in, and after losing the first game of the set never looked back. I worked my way into every game and made Steve earn every point. This worked well, as I managed to take the set 6/1 and a 3 sets to 1 lead after day one.
Watch a replay of Day 1’s action HERE
Day 2 Sets 5-8
After grabbing the lead on Day 1, I knew that the 5th set would be crucial for me to keep the momentum of the match. I did my best to start quickly, and again grabbed a quick first set 6/3. The second set Steve started to find his openings, and put me on my back foot. I found myself 4/2 down before I snuck two games to tie it at 4/4. Steve took control though, and closed out the set with two very strong games 6/4. That meant we were 1 set all on the day, and that a third day was definitely going to happen. The mental side of the game at this point was immense, with both of us knowing the importance of the third set. Steve continued his aggressive hitting, and I was working hard to find a way to defuse it. Steve grabbed a 5/3 lead and I knew it was crucial that I be as consistent as possible to make him earn the set. I played a few big points to get to 4/5 and then a great game to tie it at 5/5. At this point we went back and forth eventually have a few deuces before I managed to sneak the set 6/5! That was the biggest set of the match, and with one left to play that day I knew I could put the pressure on. Entering the final set of the day I was 5 sets to 2 up, and wanted to grab the last one however possible. I put my foot down from the start, weathering the aggressive play from Steve and never looked back. I grabbed a 4/1 lead, then a 5/2 lead before closing out the set 6/2, making it 3 sets to 1 on the day.
Sundays play will begin at 1pm, and I will only need 1 set while Steve will need all 5 to take the match. Even with the scoreline, I am treating it as though we are level, and every set is equally as important. My preparation is the same as always, and I know it will be an intense battle from the start.
Watch a replay of Day 2’s action HERE
I will let you know what happens!!