grand slam event

AROUND THE CORNER: MEN READY FOR BATTLE IN INDIAN WELLS

Alright everybody it’s time again for some tennis that really matters at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Both the ATP and WTA Tour’s are in the house and that should make for a great week of coverage for our sport. This has always been a terrific event and it set the record for attendance outside of a Grand Slam event in 2008 with over 300,000 spectators during a twelve day period.

Let’s have a look at the men’s draw and see how things shape up.

Roger Federer is back on the scene for the first time since his Australian Open title at the end of January. The world number one has just overcome an apparent lung infection and coupled with his recent inactivity I don’t think we should expect all that much from him. Yes, he will likely make it deep into the draw, but I would be surprised if Roger made it past the semi-finals here this year. Roger gets a first round bye as do all thirty-two seeded players in the tournament. His first capable opponent could be Marcos Baghdatis in the third round.

Also in the top-half of the draw are the two Andy’s – 4th seeded Murray and 7th seeded Roddick. Murray tanked in Dubai in his only appearance since losing in the finals of the Aussie Open to Federer, while Roddick has played a fairly heavy schedule on the hard-courts of North America.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also lurks in the top-half while David Nalbandian seems ready to return to tournament play. Coming back in February after nine months away from the game due to hip surgery, Nalbandian withdrew before his third round match in Buenos Aires with a leg injury. The talented Nalbandian played the role of hero this past week in Davis Cup play as he closed out a victory over Sweden with a four set win over Andreas Vinciguerra. If he can stay healthy for an extended period, look for Nalbandian to quickly return to his typical top-twenty form.

The bottom-half of the draw contains 2nd seeded Novak Djokovic who recently defended his title in Dubai and seems poised for a bigger result here on the Masters Series stage. Right behind him is 3rd seed, Rafael Nadal, who returns to the tour after a recurring knee injury forced him to withdraw in Australia where he trailed Andy Murray in the quarter-finals. Expectations are low for Nadal as he has been away from the game for over a month and let’s just hope he can finish the tournament on his own terms. Defending his title in India Wells from 2009 is simply not going to happen.

Playing on fire so far this year and also in the bottom section is hard-serving John Isner of the United States and veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain. Isner won his first career title in Auckland in January and then was a finalist in Memphis, while Ferrero won back-to-back clay events in Costa Do Sauipe and Buenos Aires.

Also worth watching is Nikolay Davydenko who is likely still kicking himself for self-destructing against Federer in Melbourne and youngster Marin Cilic who made the semi-finals down-under and is ready to assert himself as a top-level threat in every event he enters.

I feel that with players like Federer, Nadal and Davydenko dealing with recent injuries or illnesses we are in for a Djokovic/Roddick final in Indian Wells. Those are my picks in the ATP World Tour Fantasy Challenge that begins Thursday at 2pm ET. Who will you choose?

This Week In Tennis Business

The US Open Series is in full swing with a few events completed and four weeks of great tennis still to be played before the start of the US Open. Here are some of the big headlines from the latest edition of “This Week in Tennis Business”: Billie Jean King will soon receive America’s highest civil honor from President Obama…In his first exhibition match with a current ATP player, Andre Agassi will take on former World No. 1 Marat Safin, just days before Safin plays his final grand slam event…The Bank of the West Classic signs an extension to stay at its present location through 2012.

  • Tennis legend Billie Jean King will be honored by President Barack Obama on August 12 at a White House ceremony honoring 16 individuals as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “I am honored and humbled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and I share this recognition with my family, friends and those who have come before me, those who will follow and those who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others,” said King.

  • Andre Agassi will face off against Marat Safin at the Asheville Civic Center during The Grand Slam of Asheville on August 28. Former Top 40 WTA player and new mom Ashley Harkleroad will be featured in the preliminary match against a local high school player.

  • The Bank of the West Classic will continue to be held at Stanford University’s Taube Family Tennis Center through 2012, allowing the longest running women’s only professional tournament to stay put at its current location in California. France’s Marion Bartoli defeated Venus Williams to win last week’s $700,000 Premier event.

  • The Bjorn Borg spring and summer underwear collection for 2010 was launched at fashion designer Peter Elliot’s posh Upper East Side clothing stores in New York City. The underwear collection features five styles for both men and women and can be found in Borg’s new SoHo store in Manhattan.

  • Kim Clijsters, who will be making her comeback on the WTA Tour next week in Cincinnati, has signed a sponsorship deal with the Adecco Group, a Swiss-based world leader in Human Resources.

  • Andy Roddick will headline the 10th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis on August 27 in New York City. The charity event, featuring the world’s best tennis players and chefs, gives guests the chance to interact with their favorite players and chefs, while tasting special food dishes. The popular pre-US Open event is produced by AYS Sports Marketing and benefits the Food Bank For New York City.

  • Pacific Entermark GmbH, manufacturer of strings, grips and accessories, has announced the acquisition of the racquet sports division of Austrian-based Fischer Tennis. The newly purchased racquet sports division will be located in Hochdorf, Germany.

  • Nick Bollettieri, Rick Macci, Emilio Sanchez Vicario and former U.S. Davis Cup captain Tom Gorman are among the featured speakers at the United States Professional Tennis Association’s World Conference at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa, which will be held from September 21 to 26 in Marco Island, Fla.

  • According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 18.6 million Americans play tennis, a growth of 43 percent since 2000.

  • Adam Peterson, former coach of Lindsay Davenport and ATP Tour player, has been hired as a national coach for the USTA Player Development program and will be based in Carson, Calif.