Like a pendulum, yesterday's USTA/Pandick Press tennis final could never stop its momentum from shifting.
For almost three hours, the pendulum swung -- first to the sharp volleys and racquet-jarring serves of Richard Gallien; and then to the precise ground strokes and cool demeanor of Bruce Foxworth.
But at 4-4 in the deciding third set, someone had to give. It was Gallien: a bit more tired, a bit outfinessed. On the fifth deuce of the game, Foxworth hit a certain-to-be-slammed backhand lob. It was not slammed. It was a winner, break point, and Foxworth went on to win the three-hour match, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
"If it was earlier in the match, I think he would have knocked that lob away," said Foxworth. "But you could see he didn't reach for it."
That put Gallien in the pit, and the pendulum, once and for all, on the side of Foxworth. It also set up Foxworth's game-breaking backhand passing shot, and his back-breaking, final-game service.
The East Potomac Park courts were extremely hot, and so began Gallien, a Pepperdine University senior. The first three games were impressively his, as was a 5-2 first-set lead. But not for long.
Enjoying the play on the slow asphalt courts, Foxworth began dominating play, sending Gallien from side to side, and surged to take five games running and the opening set.
But Gallien regained the momentum, taking leads of 4-0 and 4-2 in the second set. Foxworth survived two set points to climb to 5-3, but Gallien did not let this set get away, serving two aces in its final game.
"I was very tired," said Foxworth, 25 and a veteran of the USTA circuit. "But I saw he was also very tired so I just kept concentrating. That's the most important thing in a match like this."
Gallien, however, now had the confidence, charging the net more and, like the first two sets, took an early lead, 3-1. After holding his serve, Foxworth put two forehand winners together to end the longest game of the match and even it at 3-all. Then it was 4-all.
Before Foxworth hit his memorable lob, he had to outlast three break points in what became the game of the match.
In the final game, Gallien got to 30-0, but no further, Foxworth clinching his fourth USTA victory this summer with two forehand winners.
He will now try to qualify for the U.S. Open in two weeks.