It's early in the 2009 season and already the off the court games have begun.
Andy Murray said after his win over Roger Federer at Doha that his back was in very bad shape implying that Andy Roddick would win the trophy in a walkover. He played.
Jelena Jankovic, after getting her ass handed to her by Venus at Hong Kong has now said she is so deathly ill with some kind of bug (take your pick here) that she may miss the Australian Open. If she doesn't play the Open her current ranking would be in jeopardy. This is the same ranking that she implied in the off season would have to be pried from her cold dead hands. If you believe her give me a call. I have some prime land in Florida you might be interested in.
Novak Djokovic blamed his early exit from Brisbane on the change he made from a Wilson racquet to a Head racquet. That's interesting because I watched that match and Djoke, to say the least, was only mildly interested in what he was supposed to be doing with that racquet. Whispers abound that he really didn't want to play Brisbane to begin with. Now he's the top seed at Sydney.
In the first real controversy of the young season Richard Gasquet staged a remarkable comeback in his quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Brisbane. His fans saw the win as proof that 2009 will be Richard's season. I didn't see that match but there are a lot of fans who think something fishy went on and that Gasquet's play didn't have anything to do with it. As proof they could cite Richard's semi final match against Radek Stepanek. Radek did his usual schtick, fist pumping and celebrating wildly after every point he made. This hasn't stopped most of the top players from beating him in the past but Richard came totally unglued. I did watch this match and I was stunned at Gasquet's appeals to the chair to make Radek stop. The chair rightfully ignored the requests. Needless to say Gasquet lost his concentration and the match. His fans are calling Radek a clown in purple pajamas. The clown is in the final. As far as I know Richard isn't blaming his racquet or saying he was sick.
The Week That Was
Victoria Azarenka won her first WTA title over Marion Bartoli at Brisbane. She played very well and if she holds her present form will be a dangerous floater at Melbourne. I still can't get that match where she did everything but show her ass to the chair. I'll have to be convinced she's all that and two bags of chips.
Elena Dementieva is the one to watch in my very humble opinion. She played take no prisoners tennis at Auckland and there was no one there who was able to stop her.
The best match I saw was the one between Anne Keothavong of Great Britain against Elena Vesnina of Russia. This was a battle of relative equals and a lot was on the line for both women. Vesnina won that war but had nothing to fight Dementieva with in the final. Ms Keothavong showed a lot of guts and potential.
The worst match I watched last week was the one between
Amelie Mauresmo and Julie Coin, both of France. Some saw it as a valiant struggle by Amelie against a valiant opponent. All I kept saying was "Julie Coin Amelie?" I was bored to tears and despite Amelie's win the next day against Ana Ivanovic felt that she wasn't playing her best tennis. She retired with a back injury in her match against Marion Bartoli in the first set at 4-4.
The surprise of the week has been Somdev Devvarman of India. Devvarman is the first Indian to reach the Chennai final in quite some time. On his way to the final Somdev defeated Carlos Moya and Ivo Karlovic. Rainer Schuettler withdrew with a wrist inflammation putting Somdev in the final where he'll face Marin Cilic.
Do you see the pattern here? I hope so.
Andy Roddick played very good tennis on his way to the final in Doha. It's been said you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Faced with Murray's heightened level of play Roddick showed he still has trouble thinking on court. Not sure what new coach Larry Stepanki can do about that.
Raise your hand if you picked Slovakia to win the Hopman Cup. Congratulations to Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty for their win over Russia in the final. I didn't see the men's play but Dominika was moving Safina all over the court with ease. Let's see how deep she goes in Oz.
Team Americas, Gisela Dulko, Venus Williams and
Coco Vandeweghe won the Hong Kong Exhibition. Venus defeated Vera Zvonareva to secure her teams victory. Nice work ladies.
All in all this was a hell of a week for tennis fans. There was tennis all hours of the day and night, most of it available online. My daughter and I set up our laptops side by side watching live streams and still had a third stream going. With the Australian Open coming up it was good practice to be watching a match that started at 4a EST in the United States. We'll be doing a lot of that over the next three weeks. Sleep is a very overrated activity.
I wasn't looking to go into the shallow end of the pool so early in the season but hey, sometimes a blogger's got to do what a blogger's got to do. That said could someone explain to me what the hell is going on with Vera's outfit? I know it gets cool in Hong Kong this time of year but this out uglies Aravane Rezai's get up in Auckland. Sorry Vera. You get the Golden Finger this week.