Video of the Week: ‘Return of the Youz’ – Youzhny vs Cilic, Munich 2010

Mikhail Youzhny - New Beard, New Man

This weeks edition of ‘Video of the Week’ focuses on an encounter from 2010 between two players whose careers are headed in opposite directions.

Fresh from being awarded his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Moscow, and sporting a beard worthy of a rogue Spetsnaz soldier gone into exile having been disowned by his government following the end of a controversial and regrettable war, Mikhail Youzhny is entering the twilight of his career.

Born in 1988, Marin Cilic is pushing the limit of what can be considered a ‘young gun’, but for the sake of this article, we shall consider him thus. Cilic has delivered some impressive results in the past few years, knocking out Andy Murray to reach the Quarter Finals of the US Open in 2009  and reaching the Semi Finals of the 2010 Australian Open, defeating Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick along the way. However he still suffers from disappointing off-days and is yet to become a permanent fixture in the Quarter Finals and beyond of the Grand Slams.

TennisNiche was fortunate enough to be see Youzhny play against Sicilian Gianluca Naso in the qualifying rounds of the Roma Master Series in 2009. Although past his best at this point, Youzhny was one of the most impressive players TennisNiche has seen in the flesh, sliding effortlessly from corner to corner, and boasting a fantastic array of slices, drop shots and flat drives. Competent in every area of the game, his greatest strength is his single handed backhand, a gorgeous, rhythmic motion which is a joy to watch.

By most standards, Cilic is not nearly as aesthetically pleasing to watch. Superficially, standing at 6’6, his gangly demeanour suggests he has yet to grow into his frame. His serve is an odd motion, featuring a crazy amount of back bend, enough to make anyone wince who history of back pain. Far from Youzhny’s subtle game, Cilic is very much a modern baseliner. His two handed backhand is powerful, consistent and deals with high balls well, and his forehand, when on’, is a riotous force, as Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal can attest to.



2 Comments on “Video of the Week: ‘Return of the Youz’ – Youzhny vs Cilic, Munich 2010”

  1. mariposaxprs says:

    For some reason, I have trouble watching Cilic’s matches, b/c he always seems so fragile — the crazy back-bend he does on his serve only adds to it! While he plays a game that’s based on strong groundstrokes, part of me finds it hard to believe that he could really be capable of conjuring such strength, b/c he’s so thin. Then again, when he’s “on,” he is capable of putting serious pressure on any top player—his USO showing in ’09 was clear evidence of that.

    I envy you the experience of getting to watch Youzhny play on clay. His backhand is such a delight to watch, and despite his occasionally temperamental shows of behavior, he has a style that can be so pretty on the eyes (great Rambo reference to Youzhny’s beard :)). It was disappointing to see him fall early at Munich last yr — hopefully, he can have a resurgence much like his compatriot Davydenko this year!

    • tennisniche says:

      Agreed on Cilic and his appearance of fragility – I was trying to get across in my piece how he appears quite awkward and bumbly on court! I think with those long limbs, his wristy forehand looks especially fragile.

      It was amazing to see Youzhny up close! He moves so gracefully on clay courts. I’ve got a few videos of him I’ve been meaning to upload. Hoping for a resurgence among the Russians for sure 😉

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