davis cup competition

Tennis Is Well Represented At The ESPY Awards – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Defending Champs Out – This past weekend marked the quarterfinals of the 2010 Davis Cup competition and promised plenty of good tennis matchups. But one result few could have seen coming was France’s thrashing of defending two-time champion Spain. Spain has gotten used to dishing out some 5-0 defeats of its own, but unexpectedly found itself on the receiving end of such a defeat as it suffered its first 5-0 loss since 1957. There’s little doubt that this was a disappointing showing for Spain, irrespective of the fact that they were without their No. 1 Rafael Nadal. They have won without him before, and France certainly wasn’t able to field their star players either. It was Spain’s misfortune that they ran into the one team that could match them for depth of players, and congratulations are in order for the nation of France that may be ready to make its first run to the title since 2001.
Coach in the Corner – Peter Lundgren is going to be coaching a man from Switzerland, but this time it isn’t Roger Federer. It’s the number two man for the Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka. This is a great move on Wawrinka’s part, whose results over the course of the past year have been up and down and have seen his ranking slip to outside of the Top 20. Lundgren has had another high profile pupil in Marat Safin, so there’s no doubt he possesses the ability to handle talented players and get their careers going in the right direction. Hopefully he will be able to do the same for Wawrinka by getting him to channel his talent and play within his own boundaries. If so, he could well be headed back to the Top 10.

Back on Track – On the historical grass courts of the Newport Casino, Mardy Fish suddenly found his game and emerged victorious. Fish has been an unfortunate victim of some serious injuries over the course of his career, and he’s also admitted to being more than a little negligent when it came to ensuring he was putting in the time on and off the court to be at his best. But they say it’s never late than never, and nearing his 29th birthday, Mardy Fish may be ready to make a run to the upper echelons of the men’s game, his ranking having jumped 30 places with his victory in the city by the sea. Last year’s Newport finalist appearance turned out to be a catalyst to a great summer for Sam Querrey, and it may bring Fish the same kind of results during the 2010 US Open Series.
Highest Honor – This past Saturday saw the induction of seven new members into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This induction also had a different feel as it focused on some of the greatest doubles teams of all time (though not the first…see Hewitt/McMillan, Class of 1992), and saw the induction of the first wheelchair tennis player, wheelchair tennis founder and pioneer Brad Parks. Don’t expect this to become a trend at the Hall, but rightfully I think we can expect to see more stellar doubles teams and wheelchair tennis athletes behind the podium during Enshrinement Weekend in the future.
And the ESPY goes to… – Okay, not as prestigious as the Oscars or the Emmys, and personally I think there’s a bit of American bias with these awards, but it is worth noting that tennis was well-represented at the 2010 ESPY Awards. Not surprisingly, Roger Federer and Serena Williams took top honors in the sport of tennis, while Kim Clijsters was named the Comeback of the year. But what was best was seeing that John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut took the cake for best Record-breaking Performance. Again, the quality of the tennis was not the greatest in this match, but a big thank you to those guys for gutting it out for just over 11 hours and putting tennis on the map in a multitude of ways.

AROUND THE CORNER: DAVIS CUP AND THE MONTERREY OPEN

A mixed bag of events are around the corner this week. To kick off the month of March, the men are involved in the first round of Davis Cup competition. The women meanwhile are in Mexico for the Monterrey Open. Both tour’s are inching closer to the combined event in Indian Wells that begins in two weeks.

Davis Cup:

Here are the match-ups for the first round of the World Group starting March 5th.

Spain vs. Switzerland – Logrono, Spain;

No Nadal or Federer in this match-up unfortunately. Spain is the huge favorite as this will be played on clay and can rely on David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo.

France vs. Germany – Toulon, France;

Without veterans Tommy Haas and Nicolas Kiefer, Germany will be in tough on hard courts against a French team that includes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.

Russia vs. India – Moscow, Russia;

Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny should own India in singles competition, but look for the Indian duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati to win the doubles match.

Sweden vs. Argentina – Stockholm, Sweden;

The indoor hard-court conditions should be ideal for Sweden’s Robin Soderling who should win both of his singles matches. This will be a tough match-up for Argentina as David Nalbandian is once again on the injury list.

Croatia vs. Ecuador – Varazdin, Croatia;

Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic are going to make life very difficult for the Lapentti brothers on the hardcourts in Varazdin.

Serbia vs. United States – Belgrade, Serbia;

This should be a very interesting match-up, with Novak Djokovic leading the way for Serbia and the Bryan brothers countering for the United States. In the end it will come down to how Sam Querrey and John Isner can respond as the lead singles players for the U.S. on the red clay in Belgrade. Serbia has the definite edge considering the chosen surface.

Chile vs. Israel – Coquimbo, Chile;

On paper, the Chilean squad led by Fernando Gonzalez should be favored on clay against Israel, but in 2009 the Israeli’s put on quite a show in Davis Cup play and made it all the way to the semi-finals. They cannot be counted out in this tie inCoquimbo. The doubles duo of Andy Ram and Jonathan Elrich are quite the force.

Belgium vs. Czech Republic – Bree, Belgium

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek lead the way for the Czechs against veterans Olivier Rochus and Xavier Malisse. The Belgians will really have to rely on using the energy from the home-court advantage to have a hope against the higher-ranked Czech’s.

Monterrey Open:

A year ago, Marion Bartoli won the innaugaural Monterrey Open against Li Na 6-4, 6-3.

This year, Jelena Jankovic leads the tournament as the top seed and perhaps this event offers her the opportunity to get her game back on track. Struggling mightily for the past year, the Serbian has great talent but a mental game that is as fragile as they come.

Other names to keep an eye on in Monterrey include Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Aleks Wozniak from Canada and Melanie Oudin of the United States. All of these players could benefit from a strong run and without many of the tour’s top players in attendance should be able to get some momentum ahead of Indian Wells.

Jelena Dokic leads the qualifying tournament as the top seed and will be looking to post her first substantial result of 2010. While Dokic had a fantastic start to 2009 by making the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, she has failed to repeat that success this year and is 1-3 in tournament play.