Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for Youzhny

Tsonga v Youzhny as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s quarter-final result:


7-5 6-0 7-6


By Tom Fordyce

Tsonga 7-6 Youzhny
He’s done it! Youz looked like he was going to claw a set back, but Tsonga stayed strong to stick away two wonderful volleys. At match point Youzhny dinks a backhand long, and as the out call comes in, Tsonga collapses to the deck with joy. Fantastic performance, and the Aussie crowd are going looperoo.

Tsonga 6-6 Youzhny
Heartening battling from the downbeat Russian, who could have capitulated at 30-30 but instead produced his best point of the match. A yell and bellow take him into the tie-break.

Tsonga 6-5 Youzhny
Brilliant from the prowling Frenchman. Youz has a chance at 15-15 but two deep, sizzling forehands open up smash-volley chances at the net. Youz staring down the barrell again.

Tsonga 5-5 Youzhny
Hats off to Micky. Tsonga has him at deuce with teeth bared, but he rips a forehand cross-court and forces a rare error with another vice-like point. A Russian roar of “Come on!” echoes around the Rod Laver Arena.

Tsonga 5-4 Youzhny
Lordy – that didn’t take long – J-W swats Youz aside in mere easy-breathing moments. Just one game away from his first Grand Slam semi now, and Youz is wobbling on the precipice.

Tsonga 4-4 Youzhny
Youz holds in the face of another Songers onslaught, but the seams are leaking and rivets popping out all over the place.

Tsonga 4-3 Youzhny
The Songers serve comes under pressure for the very first time as a Youz volley at full stretch works a deuce. Another deuce follows as Song slips before normal service is resumed with a cold-hearted efficiency.

Tsonga 3-3 Youzhny
Mock celebrations from Youz as a lucky net-cord allows him to stagger across the line after four strength-sapping deuces. Songers had a big fat bite at a break point there but thrashed his backhand onto the tape.

Tsonga 3-2 Youzhny
What a volley from J-W – Youz smashes the ball at his chest, but he throws his racquet out and somehow controls the ball into the corner as Youz looks on in dejected astonishment. Back at his chair, it’s banana o’clock.

Tsonga 2-2 Youzhny
Let’s look on the bright side – at least he’s holding his own serve now. Although that’s about it.

Tsonga 2-1 Youzhny
The respite is brief – Tsonga rattles through his own service game in utterly unflustered fashion. What can Youz do about this, short of hurdling the net and launching into his rival with a flurry of blows?

Tsonga 1-1 Youzhny
After nine games of pain, Youz finally gets back on the board. He throws his head back and howls at the Melbourne night sky.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
Youz is moving like a man in a bad dream. He’s yet to work a single break point or even deuce on the Tsonga serve, and is now mumbling under his breath in slightly deranged fashion.


Tsonga 6-0 Youzhny
No luck at all for Mick – a Tsonga backhand clips the tape and drops just over the net to set up yet another break point, before a loopy forehand dips late to bite the edge of the line and seal the set. Youzhny’s eyes have glazed over, and he staggers off to t he lockers for a mind-sharpening courtesy break.

Tsonga 5-0 Youzhny
A dismissive fifth ace from J-W, and he’s on the brink of a two-set lead here. The crowd are warming to his mix of power and cunning – particularly four boisterous Frenchmen waving a tricolour with foamy-lipped frenzy.

Tsonga 4-0 Youzhny
Shocker for Micky. He blasts a forehand long to give away his third service game in a row, and stands there in misery as Coach Sobkin grimaces like a man with an elephant on his toe.

Tsonga 3-0 Youzhny
The emergency unwrapping makes no difference. Tsonga is away like a runaway express, and Youzhny can’t get close to the brakes.

Tsonga 2-0 Youzhny
Joyous tennis from the 22-year-old Frenchman – a wonderful running top-spin lob over the scrambling Mick to smash-and-grab his fourth game on the bounce. Mick signals to the umpire that he needs assistance, and he hobbles to his chair before grabbing some scissors and slicing off the thick layers of tape he had bound around his ankles. As the umpire gives him the hurry-up, the mummy returns.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
J-W’s doing to Youz exactly what he did to Andy Murray in the first round – dictating the points with a muscular meanness. Can he keep these levels up?


Tsonga 7-5 Youzhny
Brilliant steal from Tsonga, barrelling a brutal backhand across Youzhny’s chest to snatch the break and set in the blink of an eye. He celebrates with a Montyesque leap and jogs back to his chair with a satisfied frown.

Tsonga 6-5 Youzhny
J-W’s loving every second of this. His forehand is an absolute thumper, and he’s not giving Mick a glimmer of a chance. On the Ali lookalikey tip, the most obvious difference between the two is the nose. Rather than the noble mashed beak of Muhammad, J-W’s got a delicate little ski-jump.

Tsonga 5-5 Youzhny
The first sniff of a chance for Songers, working a 0-30 advantage before Youz creams a forehand down the line and drifts in a backhand for 30-30. Songers sets up a break point with his meaty forehand, Youz saves it with deep serve wide to the backhand and stays in the set when Songers goes longers with a mis-hit forehand from beyond the baseline.

Tsonga 5-4 Youzhny
J-W’s landing 80% of his first serves; Micky 90%. That’s why the break point has been as absent as a British female player from Wimbledon’s second week.

Tsonga 4-4 Youzhny
Micky goes to love, too, and we could have a ripper on our hands here. J-W broods on the baseline as the first shouts of, “Allez Tsong-gah!” go up from the stands.

Tsonga 4-3 Youzhny
Another love service game from the Frenchman. Youzhny, if you haven’t seen him before, looks a little like a more butch version of Michael Owen. Apparently he was a ball-boy at the Russia v USA Davis Cup final in Moscow in 1995. He even had his photo taken with Pete Sampras.

Tsonga 3-3 Youzhny
J-W buries a backhand cross-court to worry Mick, but the Russian stands tall on his serve to bring us level. Applause from his courtside coach, Boris Sobkin, who’s been working with him since he was ten years old.

Tsonga 3-2 Youzhny
Raking forehand from J-W to smooth over a potential hitch at 15-30, with booming serves to polish things off. His choice of refresco at the change-over is a pale orange liquid, and he sips with a face straight off the poker table.

Tsonga 2-2 Youzhny
Steady again from Mick, who’s sporting the classic tennis sock – a white mid-calf number with elasticated top.

Tsonga 2-1 Youzhny
Songers has dropped just one point on his serve so far. Apparently his nickname as a junior was Muhammad Ali, owing to his slight likeness to the Greatest Sportsman Ever (TM).

Tsonga 1-1 Youzhny
Micky does the same with minimum fuss. As you were, gentlemen.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
Tsonga starts confidently, cruising his way through his first service game without breaking a bead.

1035: After the briefest of breathers, we’re almost off again. Will the chaps be able to hit the ball as hard as Sharapova? The Russian thrashed Justine Henin – must have given her compatriot Mikhail Youzhny a big lift as he seeks to reach the semi-finals.

By the way, you can also watch the action live on BBC Interactive or listen to commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Story from BBC SPORT


Youzhny v Nadal as it happened

Wimbledon fourth round latest:

M YOUZHNY (Rus) 14 v R NADAL (Sp) 2

6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 2-6


Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 2-6 Nadal
Rafa makes no mistake when it matters most, holding to love and holiding his arms aloft as Court Two gets to its collective feet to give a standing ovation to two players who have produced a quite brilliant tennis match. Congratulations to Rafa for a simply magnificent comeback and, while I’m at it, congratulations to my girlfriend’s brother Tim for becoming a father for the first time just a few hours ago. Nice one pal.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 2-5 Nadal
Every time Youz wins a point, Court Two erupts. It’s like these people don’t ever want me to eat again. Naturally, we go to deuce and from Rafa’s first match point, Youz drop-shots a little beauty to stay in it. Why don’t they just play that shot every time? Somehow, Youz finds the strength to hold and, credit to him, makes Rafa come out and serve for the game.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-5 Nadal
After the Lord Mayor’s show, from the sublime to the ridiculous, call it what you like, but after a truly breathtaking game, Rafa shuts up shop and blows Youz into oblivion with a destructive show of power. The phrase ‘you don’t return those’ was made for that game, which ends with an ace. One more game for Rafa to reach the quarters.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-4 Nadal
What a fantastic game. Youz is desperately trying to hang in there and after another slug-fest, he unfurls a stunning forehand into the corner. But a lazy backhand takes us to deuce and after some cracking tennis from both players, Rafa’s blistering power proves too much. Double break for Rafa, heartbreak for Youz, almost lunchbreak for me. Almost.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-3 Nadal
At 15-15, Rafa gets a massive slice of luck courtesy of an outrageous net cord. He takes full advantage, with Youz now looking badly out of sorts and the Russian goes fractionally wide as Rafa forges two games ahead. It’s slipping away from Youz now.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-2 Nadal
Ah, the return of the drop shot. Cheers Rafa, I’d almost forgotten about it. It’s the only shot stopping these two from permanently and powerfully slogging their guts out. Crucially, Rafa earns two break points and a typically pinpoint forehand gets him in front. Surely he’s not going to relinquish this lead now?

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-1 Nadal
The Rafa contingent hit back with some ole’s of their own, only for their man to wallop a forehand a country mile beyond the baseline. He gets into a bit of trouble at 15-30, but the forehand radar is back on track with a couple of crackers and we’re 2-2, 1-1, game on.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 1-0 Nadal
Huge cheers reverberate around Court Two and the crowd are desperate for the Russian to put up some resistance in this set. Every point he wins is roundly applauded and, quite unexpectedly, he holds to love. Should have known this set wasn’t going to be a walkover, needing, as I do, both the toilet and my lunch. Ah well.


Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-6 Nadal
Brutally efficient is what Rafa’s being now. Youz is barely in the game and Rafa holds with mimimum of fuss to square it up at two sets all. I don’t fancy the Russian’s chances in the fifth set, but then what do I know? Save your emails, the answer is, A) Not a lot.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-5 Nadal
Rafa is all over Youz. There is no escape from the number two seed and he fairly hops and skips to the net to batter in another close-range volley. When he misses, he looks furious with himself, a touch of the John McEnroe’s about that, for sure. Youz nets a simple volley and this set, much like the last one, has been nothing short of a demolition.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-4 Nadal
If Youz was 100% fit he’d be having problems right now, such is Rafa’s remarkable consistency of hitting. The Spaniard holds to love and it’s difficult to see how he is not going to win this match now.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 2-3 Nadal
Phenomenal hitting from Rafa, who is finding the sweet spot of his racket almost every shot. The forehand is doing irreparable damage and only Youz’s first serve is keeping him at bay. Just holding his serve has become a marathon task, but, just, he makes it.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 1-3 Nadal
There’s no stopping Rafa now and two aces help him close out another comfortable hold. Youz is getting frustrated with himself and mutters something (presumably in Russian) barely audible under his breath as he falls further behind.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 1-2 Nadal
Must have cursed the drop shot there. Rafa hits a lame one into the net and then out of nowhere the umbrellas go up. Rafa’s so used to this, he races straight to his chair, but, to huge cheers from the masses, the umpire decides to play on. What a legend. Rafa takes maximum possible advantage by lashing home a forehand to earn a break point and then Youz goes woefully wide to hand Rafa the advantage. Youz is clearly in trouble and has yet more treatment, this time with his left leg hoisted high in the air. Looks a touch painful, but it worked (briefly) last time.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 1-1 Nadal
Amazingly, Youz is once again matching Rafa’s power and some of the rallies are mesmerising. Usually the power exchange is interrupted by a drop shot, with both players showing soft hands at times. Anyway, Rafa holds and the Spaniards’ supporters in the crowd are lifting the decibel level a notch into the bargain.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 1-0 Nadal
At times, it’s been drop shot o’clock on Court Two. I love it when the reply to one drop-shot is another one, genius, and Youz pulls it off brilliantly. Rafa makes his sweat at 40-30, but the Spaniard goes wide and Youz takes an early lead. He was battered around by the trainer, but by gum it seems to have done the job so far.

1305 BST: The trainer comes on for Mikhail Youzhny, who appears to have some problems with his back. What do you mean it’s just a ploy to interrupt Rafa’s flow? Surely not.


Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-6 Nadal
All of a sudden, Rafa doesn’t look like a man playing his millionth day on the trot. He is positively electric and has raced through that set in no time at all. That booming forehand has warmed up nicely, too. Five sets anyone?

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-5 Nadal
Pressure, pressure, pressure. Youz’s game has dropped 5% and Rafa is all over him like a rash. Two big serves claw it back from 0-30, but two simple forehands into the net give Rafa the double break and this set is largely all over.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-4 Nadal
Youz hits back by taking his awesome backhand out of the top drawer and he suddenly finds another gear to get to 0-30. The Rafael Nadal of an hour ago might just have buckled, but not a bit of it now. He gets it right on his serve and whacks down an ace to move 4-1 ahead.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 1-3 Nadal
Rafa is on fire now, hitting lines with just about every shot. A couple of big serves help Youz hold and he is off the mark in the set, but the Russian really is coming under massive pressure now.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 0-3 Nadal
A fabulous rally that has the crowd off their seats ends with Youz putting away a volley, but he blows the next two and Rafa ploughs further ahead in the set. A stunning forehand hands him the game and he bounces back to his chair looking totally reinvigorated.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 0-2 Nadal
Much, much more like it from Rafa. He finally gets his first break point of the match courtesy of a wonderful forehand down the line and Youz double faults to gift Rafa an early break in the third set. The pump is back to stay, too.

Youzhny 6-4 6-3 0-1 Nadal
A rare blip from the until now metronomic Youz, while Rafa gets his forehand back up and running with a couple of crackers. it’s now or never for the number two seed.


Youzhny 6-4 6-3 Nadal
It’s pump-up time. Rafa saves a set point with a great approach and a volley and gives it the big ‘un for the first time today. But Youz hits back at deuce, putting away a classy volley and then Rafa goes wide to hand the Russian the set. If Rafa’s gonna win, it’s gonna have to be five sets again. The sun has broken through and Mikhail Youzhny is in dreamland.

Youzhny 6-4 5-3 Nadal
Rafa cannot cope with the brute force of Youz’s backhand, but three unreturnable serves dig him out of this particular hole and he at least makes the Russian serve for the set.

Youzhny 6-4 5-2 Nadal
Rafa takes out a new racket, but Youz powers on regardless, his strength and clever use of the court just proving too much for the weary Spaniard. Rafa, who usually gets everything back, has failed to return 18 Youz serves. He’s now serving to stay in the second set.

Youzhny 6-4 4-2 Nadal
Rafa goes long and hammers a ball away in sheer frustration at his own inaccuracy. Youz takes advantage with another clean forehand winner before Rafa gets to 30-30 with one of those Pete Sampras look-how-high-I-can-jump type smashes. Bad shot, good shot as Youz takes it to deuce, but Rafa, digging in as only he can, manages to hold.

Youzhny 6-4 4-1 Nadal
Great reach from the Russian as he extends himself at the net to volley home and, despite one outrageous backhand winner from Rafa, Youz blasts one on to the line himself to wrap it up. “I’m a bit tired, for sure,” said Rafa yesterday. He looks it, too.

Youzhny 6-4 3-1 Nadal
Rafa gets off the mark courtesy of some coolness at the net, an ace, a brutal forehand and a mis-hit from Youz. Somehow, he has now got to find a way of breaking back.

“Nadal would probably relish a weather break right now.”
BBC Sport commentator Andrew Castle

Youzhny 6-4 3-0 Nadal
A couple of awesome winners each takes us to deuce whereupon Youz steps up a notch and holds. This really is impressive stuff from the 25-year-old, who is coolness personified so far. He also looks a bit like Chelsea schemer Joe Cole, as a colleague has just pointed out.

Youzhny 6-4 2-0 Nadal
Not exactly the quickest player on tour anyway, Rafa slows things right down here. But Youz is happy to wait, cracking two clean forehand winners to take the game to deuce and then pasting another formidable backhand cross-court for a monstrous winner. He blows one break point but rapidly earns another and after a monumental rally he slams a short ball back for a winner to earn more daylight.

Youzhny 6-4 1-0 Nadal
I was warned about Youz’s backhand and my word is that a proper tennis shot. He smears one across court before even Rafa can react and holds pretty easily yet again.


Youzhny 6-4 Nadal
Unbelievable scenes on Court Two. Rafa double faults at 15-30 to hand Youz two set points and from the first break point of the set he takes the advantage. The rally that takes him ahead is a cracker, with a lightning-quick volley exchange at the net before Rafa sends a forehand wide.

Youzhny 5-4 Nadal
Rafa wins a fabulous rally with a full-stretch volley, but Youz is keeping his cool under pressure well and his first serve is winning him a fair few free-ish (well they’re never totally free against Rafa) points. An ace at 40-30 works the oracle again.

Youzhny 4-4 Nadal
Rafa uses the new balls to hit even heavier shots, including a smashing a ball so hard from close-range it may never be seen again. The power of this guy is immense.

Youzhny 4-3 Nadal
Just as Youz prepares to hold for love, Rafa obliterates a backhand down the line, shot of the match so far. Youz then nets a simple forehand, before Rafa pulls his drop-shot out of the locker to take us to deuce. A couple of big serves bail him out just in the nick of time.

Youzhny 3-3 Nadal
Rafa takes his cue from Youz and holds to love, his first serve improving all the time under the murky Wimbledon skies. How he must be praying the rain holds off.

Youzhny 3-2 Nadal
Youz hits back with another sumptuous drop shot and holds to love, throwing his first ace into the mixer while he’s at it. Cool stuff so far from the Russian.

Youzhny 2-2 Nadal
Twice Rafa goes long to fall 0-30 behind. But two clinical aces level matters and then Youz goes long to hand the Spaniard the game. Just another hint of trouble for Nadal, which he came through with his cutomary aplomb.

Youzhny 2-1 Nadal
Wow. Standing four yards behind the baseline, Rafa rockets a forehand right into the corner for a blistering winner. Not that Youz cares, mind, as his serve and backhand help him to the next four points without reply.

Youzhny 1-1 Nadal
A double fault puts Rafa under early pressure, but some heavy forehands see him through. He never makes you feel like it’s gonna be easy though.

Youzhny 1-0 Nadal
A couple of brilliant volleys from Youz and a drop shot to dream about early doors, as he wins his service game to love.

1114 BST: Just in case you’ve forgotten, that last match against Robin Soderling took Rafa five days, five sets and, equally impressively, five of us doing the live clockwatch too. Surely that must be some sort of new world record? I mean the internet’s only about 17 days old.

1109 BST: As the players go through their warm-up routine, it begins to get ominously dark overhead. Rafa might just explode if this match is as rain-hit as his last one.

1100 BST: The head-to-head makes interesting reading. The Russian number 14 seed has beaten Rafa three times, all on hard courts, with the Spaniard triumphing on four occasions. “Mikhail is a great player,” hyped Nadal on Wednesday.

1050 BST: If there’s no rest for the wicked, Rafael Nadal must be a very, very evil man indeed. The Spaniard is about to step out on court for the fourth day in a row for his fourth round encounter with Mikhail Youzhny.

Federer v Youzhny as it happened

French Open Fourth round result:


7-6 6-4 6-4


By Sam Lyon

Third set

Federer 7-6 6-4 6-4 Youzhny
Youzhny extinguishes any thoughts that he’ll refuse to go down without a fight as he comes out on top of a fabulous opening rally that ends with Federer sending a desperate forehand long. A serve-volley brings Federer to 30-15 but Youzhny forces another error to draw level at 30-30 and then comes out on top of another rally to force break point. He can’t take it, though, as Federer draws a point out of the top drawer, sending Youzhny round the court to make it deuce.

One match point goes awry thanks to a Youzhny forehand winner and the Russian saves a second with a stunning backhand down the line. Youzhny then forces another break point of his own but sends a backhand wide to let Federer off the hook and it proves third time lucky for the Swiss a point later, the top seed’s unreturnable serve forcing the error to ensure he comes through a difficult examination in three sets. He’ll have to step up his game next time out against ninth seed Tommy Robredo, though.

Federer 7-6 6-4 5-4 Youzhny
With Barry Davies positively fuming about “the arty nonsense” coverage of French TV on BBCi, Youzhny adopts damage-control mode and holds to 15 with a series of grunts, fist-pumps and hip flexes. And some decent serves and groundstrokes as well, of course.

Federer 7-6 6-4 5-3 Youzhny
Two gentleman, who could not look more French if they had cloves of garlic stuffed in their ears and a slab of cheese between their legs, hold aloft a banner wishing their mum a happy birthday in the crowd. Blooming cheapskates – whatever happened to flowers and two tickets to see ‘Billy Elliott’?? Federer, who I bet treats his mum very nicely on her birthday thank you very much, clicks his serve into top gear and holds to love. Youzhny will serve to stay in the match.

Federer 7-6 6-4 4-3 Youzhny
Youzhny looks forlornly up at his coach as two Federer winners make it 0-30. He pulls one back with an unreturnable serve to Federer’s forehand side, but the Swiss earns two break points from a long rally that ends with him forcing Youzhny to volley into the net off his toes. A deep backhand return goes long next point, Federer breaks and that is the beginning of the end you feel.

Federer 7-6 6-4 3-3 Youzhny
And, as if to show us commentators that it’s there if he wants it, Federer produces four points of real quality to hold to love.

“When you’re so far ahead of your opponent, it can be hard to keep pushing yourself and Federer certainly has not hit his straps at all today.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 7-6 6-4 2-3 Youzhny
Good on Youzhny, though, he bounces back from the disappointment of the previous game to hold to 30. It’s all very patchy and up and down from Federer out there, but Youzhny is struggling to find an answer on a consistent basis.

Federer 7-6 6-4 2-2 Youzhny
Federer still cannot find his range consistently and Youzhny, fuelled with renewed vigour, strides to 40-0 up. But, Federer constructs a fine point to reduce the deficit – a point that ends with Youzhny displaying an impressive, and rather painful looking, splits action – and then makes it 30-40 with a forehand winner. Agonisingly, a wide backhand from Youzhny brings Federer level and the Swiss snatches the next two points as well to hold. It prompts Youzhny to launch a barrage of what can only assume is abuse at his coach in the stands. Clearly he’s wearing his side-parting the wrong way, the doughnut.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-2 Youzhny
And Youzhny holds his next game to love, including his third ace of the match. Renewed belief sweeps through the Russian and there’s a delectable sense of anticipation sweeping across the arena. Alright, I made the last bit up – let’s be honest, it’d be a monumental shock if Federer lost here (cue commentator’s curse) – but at least Youzhny looks nearly human again.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-1 Youzhny
Well well well, is Youzhny going to make me eat my words… He picks up on Federer’s lack of urgency with renewed aggression and breaks back to 30. The crowd respond with a polite handclap – they really are a rowdy bunch I tell you – and Youzhny, wait for it, smiles. How nice.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-0 Youzhny
A touch of genius brings Federer the opening point of the set as he strokes a pick-up volley off the floor into the open court. Youzhny battles back to 30-15 up but the next forehand goes wide, prompting him to wail something that sounded like “egeetzaaaa”. Admittedly, my Russian is not quite up to scratch so I’m not sure if that’s the right spelling. Anyway, Federer forces break point next up and he takes it when Youzhny backhands into the net. If, like my female colleague here in the office, you’re a Youzhny fan, look away now…

Second set

Federer 7-6 6-4 Youzhny
That’s it – bosh – 2-0 to Federer. Not without the odd hiccup – an easy volley into the net is indicative of an uncharacteristically error-strewn display – but an ace and unreturnable second serve seals the second set, and to say Youzhny has a mountain to climb is like saying, well, something really quite obvious.

Federer 7-6 5-4 Youzhny
Youzhny won’t throw the towel in just yet, though. He races to a 40-0 lead, can do nothing about an inch-perfect Federer volley, and closes out the game to 30 with a wide, unreturnable serve.

Federer 7-6 5-3 Youzhny
The umpire is bang involved now, jumping off his chair for an overrule to declare a let on the first point. His reference to the first serve as “premier service” reminds me – I tell you what wasn’t premier service, the rubbish I was faced with down my local last night. Half hour wait for two Stellas, two white wines (for the ladies) and a packet of dry roasted? I won’t be going there again I tell you that much. Not until tonight anyway, that’ll teach them. I might need a drink after this as it happens, it’s overwhelmed with a sense of inevitability – Federer again holds comfortably to love and he is approaching something like his best form now.

Federer 7-6 4-3 Youzhny
To be fair, Youzhny is battling valiantly at the moment, even if he is just delaying the inevitable you fear. He drives his way to 40-15 up with a couple of well-constructed points and seals the game with an ace. Funnily enough, this prompts Youzhny to approach the umpire to complain angrily about the “ball design”. I’ve heard some excuses in my time, but…

Federer 7-6 4-2 Youzhny
A short Youzhny volley gives Federer the chance to slam a cross-court backhand winner that helps the crowd find their voice, and it prompts three inch-perfect points for the Swiss who holds to love.

Federer 7-6 3-2 Youzhny
Federer pegs the scoreline back at 30-30 after a couple of Youzhny winners, and then forces the game to deuce after an unreturnable serve with a deep forehand pass. The Swiss gains break point, but Youzhny saves it when Federer finds the net off a second serve. Another missed groundstroke gives Youzhny game-point and he takes it with a volleyed winner. Hard work for the Russian this, though.

Federer 7-6 3-1 Youzhny
Federer, a renewed glint in his eye, flanks another couple of errors with a couple of blistering serves and winners. It’s safe to say the match has yet to explode into life yet and that is resulting in an unusually quiet crowd on the Philippe Chatrier court.

Federer 7-6 2-1 Youzhny
He may be a set and a break up, but Federer is clearly not happy – highlighted by a resigned cry of “yeah yeah yeah” (but without the preceding “She Loves You”) when he sends another return long. Youzhny sees his opportunity and holds to 30 – bringing the Russian to scream his own “yeah” that only prompts Federer to send a bemused look down at his opponent. Perhaps that will get the players fired up again.

“You have to feel for the Russian. You often underestimate how good Federer is at defending – as well as attacking – it’s just that he has to do it rather less often.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 7-6 2-0 Youzhny
I can tell you from years of experience of playing “Headers and Volleys” on the practice pitches of Clayhall Park, that the true sign of a champion is winning when you’re not playing well. Well Federer is doing just that, though not with as much style as I manage in my singlet and hockey shorts I’m sure. Another couple of forced errors see him slip to 15-30 but he shows glimpses of his true class with a couple of sublime drop volleys and he consolidates the break to 30.

Federer 7-6 1-0 Youzhny
Federer goes to 40-15 up against the Youzhny serve, with the Russian looking increasingly fraught, but the number 13 seed battles back bravely to force deuce – and three times to advantage. Federer maintains the pressure though, throwing in the odd chip-and-charge to keep drawing level and, despite being nearly dissected by a Youzhny cross-court winner, wins the game on his third break point when Youzhny sends a net volley long.

First set

Federer 7-6 Youzhny
Three rallies full of aggression see the first few points go against the server, giving Federer the ‘mini break’. The Swiss holds his next two points with a couple of forehand winners and a Youzhny double break gives, followed by a Federer ace gives the Swiss four set points. Youzhny saves one with a blazing backhand cross-court winner, but goes too deep next point and he’s a set down. The Russian’s inability to retain quality on his first serve in that set – it was down at 49% – cost him and, with Federer sure to improve on five winners and 15 unforced errors, Youzhny will surely have to up his game.

Federer 6-6 Youzhny
Top work from Youzhny, who is forced to rely on his second serve on occasion but holds to 15 with a sublime backhand pass down the line and another uncharacteristic Federer error. It will be a first-set tie-break.

Federer 6-5 Youzhny
Federer goes 30-0 up in the blink of an eye, and shrugs off an unfortunate net cord to win the game to 15. Youzhny is increasingly targeting Federer’s backhand, but lord help him if the Swiss finds his range with that because his forehand looks impenetrable right now.

Federer 5-5 Youzhny
A smashed backhand winner from Federer appears to sound an ominous warning, but Youzhny takes advantage of a couple of cheap points and pulls out a couple of big serves to keep himself in the set.

“For all Youzhny’s impressive play, you feel his next couple of service games will be crucial. This is exactly the time when Federer goes for the throat.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 5-4 Youzhny
A couple of wild swings from Federer hands Youzhny a 0-30 advantage, but the no 1 seed uses his forehand passes and big serve to good effect in winning the next four points to extinguish the Russian’s hopes of a second break.

Federer 4-4 Youzhny
With Federer looking in increasingly good touch, none more so in winning another lengthy rally at 15-15, Youzhny does well to hold after being taken to deuce. Aggression is serving him well right now and a deep forehand forces Federer to find the net with an attempted backhand winner and we’re all square again.

Federer 4-3 Youzhny
And the break-back is consolidated to 15. What sounds like an ambulance siren wails from outside the court as the game concludes – a touch prescient for Youzhny, even at this early stage, perhaps?

Federer 3-3 Youzhny
I’m reliably informed by a female colleague of mine that Youzhny’s missus is not the only eye candy on show – the Russian himself (apparently a ringer for Matthew Perry aka Chandler from Friends?) is “rather dishy”. So there you go. A double fault puts him under immediate pressure in game six, though, and a deep backhand gives Federer break-back point. An aggressive, deep forehand saves it, but Federer forces two consecutive errors to level the match.

Federer 2-3 Youzhny
Good service game from Federer, aided by five first serves, and he seals the game to 15 following the best rally of the match so far.

Federer 1-3 Youzhny
The crowd is building nicely now, and Youzhny’s missus is in to see if her fella can pull off a shock. Whatever happens, the Russian gets to go home with her, and that’s no scant consolation let me tell you. Anyway, he might not need consoling at this rate, though Federer is ominously finding his touch. A couple of big serves are followed by a Federer winner and an unforced error, but a Youzhny drop shot seals the game nicely.

Federer 1-2 Youzhny
Some suggestion that Federer is finding his range as he pushes and pulls Youzhny all round the court to win three successive points. Youzhny provides a good follow-up off a cracking return to make it 30-40 but then sends one wide to get Federer on the board.

Federer 0-2 Youzhny
A blazing backhand return gives Federer’s fans something to cheer, but a fine wide-court ace from Youzhny precedes the Swiss sending a delicate drop-volley into the net. Another long Federer backhand gives Youzhny game point and he doesn’t miss out. The top seed has not settled here yet.

Federer 0-1 Youzhny
Shock horror! ‘Federer is losing in the French Open’, cry the commentators! With Youzhny hitting deep and Federer’s serve mis-firing early, the Swiss goes 15-40 down thanks to three unforced errors. He saves one, but a fine forehand return gives the Russian the opening game.

Pre-match (all times BST):

1144: A meddlesome reporter has a quick word with both players as they make their way onto the court – they can’t appreciate that kind of interruption surely – but the chat reveals literally nothing of interest at all. Except that both are aware it is hotter in Paris today, than earlier in the week. That reporter gets paid to extract those juicy titbits you fear.

1139: Next up on the Philippe Chatrier court is world number one Roger Federer against Mikhail Youzhny.

Federer has yet to drop a set this tournament and the feeling is that he should cruise through against Youzhny and towards a possible final against deadly rival Rafael Nadal.

Still, Youzhny will not be overawed by the big Swiss, having shown he can mix it with the big boys in beating Nadal at the US open last year, so you never know…

…that said, Federer has a 9-0 win-loss record against the Russian. He’ll be done in time to catch the big Malawi v Gabon international at 1400 no doubt, the lucky devil.