glass table

The Friday Five: Samurai Sam Is Back

By Maud Watson

Samurai Sam is Back – It was great to hear earlier this week that American Sam Querrey is successfully bouncing back from the freak accident he suffered in Thailand, where he fell through a glass table. Querrey admitted he wasn’t sure if he would ever play again, having cut 30 percent of two different muscles in his right forearm. He has proven resilient, however, and as of last week, was back out on the court practicing. He says all facets of his game minus the serve are where they were before the accident, and he’s optimistic that with further practice and exercise, he’ll have his monster serve up to snuff in no time. As one of the most likeable and promising young American stars, hopefully Sam can make a complete comeback and build on his great success of 2009.

More Good News for American Tennis – For the first time in two decades, more than 30 million Americans are hitting the courts, with a little over seven million of them newcomers to the game.  That is a 12 percent increase from 2008. It’s hard to tell why the jump in figures, be it grass roots efforts by the USTA, or maybe a touch of inspiration provided by some of the game’s elite, but at a time when tournaments and organizations in the sport are crying gloom and doom in this economy, it’s nice to hear some positive news.

Ban be Gone…Please? – Everyone is aware by now that Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse have been given a one-year ban for violating WADA’s controversial “whereabouts” rule. Earlier this week it was reported that both of the Belgians have put in their pleas to have those bans annulled. Wickmayer is claiming she was improperly informed of the online procedures for drug-testing, while Malisse’s defense has not been released. The CAS tribunal is expected to announce their ruling in four months. While the most important thing is that the CAS ultimately annuls their one-year bans, it is unfortunate that it will take up to four months to give a ruling. The wait will most likely mean that both players will be unable to participate in the Australian Open, which is particularly upsetting for the up-and-coming Belgian Wickmayer, who undoubtedly would cherish the opportunity to build upon her breakthrough US Open showing.

Good-bye Roddick, Hello Soderling – In a stroke of bad luck, Andy Roddick announced that he must once again pull out of the season-ending championships, this time without even playing a match.  The American is still suffering from a left knee injury he sustained in Shanghai.  Roddick’s withdrawal means that Swede Robin Soderling will be making his ATP World Tour Finals debut.  While it’s a shame that Soderling’s entry came at Roddick’s expense, I’m personally excited to see him added into the mix.  He’s been drawn into the same group as Nadal, and there could be some real fireworks as the two face each other for the first time since the Big Swede ended the Spaniard’s four-year hold on the red dirt of Roland Garros.

Now That’s Some Feat, Eh? – I’m going to throw a bone to doubles by giving some props to Canadian Daniel Nestor. Nestor teamed with Serb Nenad Zimonjic to defeat Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo to claim the Paris Masters title last weekend, their fifth Masters title of 2009. The win was particularly special for Nestor, however, as with his first title win at the Paris 1000 event, he became the first player in singles or doubles to win all nine of the Masters Series titles over the course of a career.

The Friday Five: Hingis ban has been lifted

By Maud Watson

WTA Woe in Tokyo – As one of the Premier events on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the Toray Pan Pacific Open drew a great field, including 9 of the current top 10 players.  Fans and tournament organizers alike should have been able to pencil in some mouth-watering quarterfinal match-ups.  But as it seems has happened so often throughout the year, the draw fell apart, with 7 of the top 10 seeds losing before the third round.  Like ‘em or hate ‘em, the WTA needs some players with consistency, who show up week in, week out, and win Majors.  One hopes the nation of Belgium might soon be providing such competitors…

Great Panes – This past Monday, American up-and-comer Sam Querrey suffered what has to be considered among one of the most freak accidents in the world of sports.  After his practice session at the PTT Thailand Open, Sam sat on a glass table, which he fell through, resulting in him badly cutting his forearm and requiring emergency surgery.  He is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.  As one of the great hopes for American tennis and a player who has really turned it on over the past couple months, I hope to see Sam back in action sooner rather than later.

The Comeback Bug Continues – Perhaps not as notable as the return of both Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, two other players making their comeback appearances earlier this week were Paradorn Srichaphan and Joachim Johansson.  Srichaphan ended a two-and-a-half year absence from the tour by pairing up with fellow countryman Danai Umdomchoke.  Though the pair lost in their opening match (and a successful Srichaphan comeback is unlikely), it was still nice to see one of the players so largely responsible for helping to put Asian tennis on the map have another go at it.  I was more excited about the return of big Swede Joachim Johansson in Malaysia.  With an impressive win over Lleyton Hewitt and a relatively tight three-set loss to Richard Gasquet, Johansson proved he still has game.  And at the age of 27 with his big serve, there’s no reason he can’t still do some damage on the ATP World Tour.

Rafa Ready – Contrary to some of the news you might have read in recent days, Rafael Nadal has declared himself fit and ready to go, and with the absence of Swiss maestro Roger Federer in Shanghai, Rafa will be looking to regain some of the ground (and aura) he lost over the summer.  More importantly to him, Rafa is prepared to represent his country in the Davis Cup final to be played in Spain against the Czech Republic December 4-6.  All I know is, I don’t envy the tough decisions Spanish Davis Cup captain Albert Costa is going to face!

The Ban is Lifted – This is a story that might fall through the cracks, but this past Wednesday marked the end of the two-year Martina Hingis was forced to serve, which effectively ended her comeback and her career.  I personally hated to see the ban slapped on her, because she brought a craftsmanship to the game that few of her peers could, not to mention the fact that the foundation of the case against her was suspect.  Her ban seemed even harsher and more ridiculous when Richard Gasquet got off with a mere two-month ban for essentially the same offense.  Hopefully the powers-at-be will learn from this miscarriage of justice, and hopefully Martina will continue to contribute to the sport in a myriad of other ways.