Archive for February, 2011

27 Feb 2011

Davis Cup

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here

I’m not going to run down every single Davis Cup tie in the World Group, as there are eight in total and a lot of uneven match-ups. Instead I’ll run down the ones I think are most promising, including the Canada/Mexico tie.

Sweden vs. Russia
While Russia is often assumed to be a powerhouse in international competitions, both on the men’s and women’s side, without Kolya and Youzhny, the Russian side is seriously lacking star power. The curious thing is that outside of Soderling, Sweden’s singles hopes fall upon a player ranked 750th in singles. One would have to assume that this contest will likely come down to the doubles to decide things. Personally, I like the Swedish team of Aspelin/Lindstedt. I’ll take Sweden in this one, 3-2.

Croatia vs. Germany

In what promises to be a massive, indoor serve fest, Germany travel to Croatia to take on the hometown favourites. At this time, it’s difficult to know how Germany will play things with Pesky Petz, a solid singles player but also a fantastic doubles player. I wouldn’t be surprised if they split the singles between him and veteran Mayer, and give the remaining two to their highest ranked singles player Kohlschreiber. Croatia will almost surely counter with Marin and Ivo, who make up quite a wall of serving power. I like Germany for the doubles, but Croatia to pull it out 3-2 overall.

Mexico vs. Canada

The Canadians once again head south to the heat near the equator for another Davis Cup clay battle, this time with Mexico. This time they have a new hope in Milos Raonic. The obvious problem arises, however, in that clay will seriously dampen the effects of his big serve, and the general tennis universe has yet to see how well he can do on clay, or how he will play. That being said, Canada also has grinders Peter Polansky and a rejuvenated Frank Dancevic, and veteran doubles beast Daniel Nestor. Mexico’s lineup comes off as rather thin, with no player ranked above 400 in singles. I won’t predict the outcome, as it’s tough to call without knowing who will get the nod in singles for Canada, but I really do like our chance to advance to play Ecuador.

WTA – Kuala Lumpur (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
Franny, Bartoli, Kleybs, Jarka Groth

This is a pretty solid line-up in Malaysia, considering it is in Asia and the week before Indian Wells. Other notable names include Lucie, Dinara, and Bojana “Bojangles” Jovanovski, who has been playing incredibly well lately. Well enough, in fact, that she’s the 8th seed in Kuala Lumpur. The tournament kicks off with a bang, featuring a Schiavone/Dokic clash in the first round.

WTA – Monterrey (International)

Official Site: Here
Draw: Here
Top Seeds:
JJ, Pavs, Rezai, Goerges

JJ jumps across the ocean after a strong showing in Doha to the courts of Mexico, a week ahead of her title defense in Indian Wells. Again, a solid line-up with Anastasia and Aravane, and it also features young talent Polona Hercog.

Just a quick note. Unlike the other Mexican tournament in Acapulco, and similar tournaments that have been happening in the western hemisphere, Monterrey is in fact on hard courts.

Incoming

Posted by Brodie under: Bepa, Caro, Doha

26 Feb 2011

Vera Zvonareva Doha

There’s something special about bug-eyed pictures of athletes. Maybe it’s because I’m a baseball fan, and you see a lot of them there… but there’s something really special about that “oh yeah, that’s the ball I was looking for” look.

It might be Sergey’s silent, steely resolve, it might be a natural maturation, it might just be a new self-belief… whatever it is, the resurgence of Vera over the past year has been an impressive one. Thursday, she was pushed to three hours by Dani, a player who had just beaten her in Pattaya not long ago, and pulled out the third set after being down a break in the third. The next day, she was pushed to the limit once again by JJ. Down 0-40 at 4-4 in the third set on her serve, she flipped the switch and absolutely crushed her way to taking the final set 6-4. Boom. In days gone by, a break or 0-40 late in the third set against a good opponent likely would have done Bepa (and her racquet) in. Now it’s nothing but determination and grit.

Despite what seems like limitless success and numerous finals for the Russian, she hasn’t won a title in a year. Number 3 in the world? That just isn’t right.

Unfortunately, in the final, Vera will be running into the brick wall that is the world number 1, who is having another superb week. The good news for Vera is that Caro has been playing for two straight weeks, and might be a little tired. I really think it should be a good final, and I would not be surprised to see it go three. Regardless, it’s been a fantastic start to the year for both ladies.

The Real Deal

Posted by Brodie under: Milos

23 Feb 2011

Milos Raonic Memphis

I could probably just copy/paste this and be on my way…

I won’t go through the match again, as you all watched it… and if you didn’t, by now you’ve likely read (and seen the accounts of what happened).

Instead I’d like to defend the hype around the kid, with a Canadian twist.

Some people are excited about Raonic, some are creating the hype, some are skeptical, and some are tired of it. But let’s take a step back and reflect on what’s actually happened here.

He finished 2009 ranked 373rd as a 17 year old. He first came into the tennis world’s mirrors as the wirey Canadian kid who, with his partner, defeated the top two players in the world together. He went on to qualify for the US Open, where he lost in the first round. He followed it up with a couple of key wins.

A month ago, he was ranked 152nd. He then burst on to the scene in Melbourne, with his gigantic serve and steady play. He decisively beat both Llodra and The Youz, before burning out against Ferrer in the fourth round, his seventh match of the tournament.

Since then, he’s turned both tennis fans and Canad(ian non-tennis writers) on their heads. He defeated Verdasco in the final of San Jose, got his first tournament victory, and defeated him three days later in Memphis and nearly won the whole damn thing. He’s risen to 37th in the world and leads the ATP in aces.

So what do we ask? Is the serve *that* good? How does he fair on non-indoor tournaments, or on clay? Is he the “next big thing”? Is he the next new slam winner? Is he a shoe in for the top 10? All fair questions. To start, I don’t think blowing this up as “next number 1, next new slam winner” etc. is necessary. The kid’s got talent and likely isn’t going anywhere outside of the top 50, maybe top 30, any time soon.

But how legitimate are these questions or predictions? I think Milos has a serious, serious shot at the top 10. He should be getting seeded soon, if not already for smaller level tournaments, which are going to give him either byes, or chances to smother lesser players with his serve, which will in turn save him a lot of energy and give him a ton of free points in the rankings. I think, by now, we can see that Milos’ serve isn’t the only thing getting him wins right now, and he has the game to beat other top 10 opponents in later rounds.

Beyond that? Who knows. But let’s be honest… when was the last time a kid broke on to the scene, rose this quickly in the rankings, and had a 3 tournament run after being essentially an unknown? I’m not sure, to be entirely honest.

As for Canada? We’ve never had anything even remotely close to this, when it comes to tennis. Greg Rusekdski became a Brit before he really did much while flying the maple leaf. It’s pretty clear that people here are still a bit bitter over that. Instead, Milos has declared that he is Canadian and considers himself Canadian (he moved here from Montenegro at age 3) and has risen to the highest rank a Canadian male has ever reached.

In the past month, it’s sent Canadian sports reporter reeling. On TSN’s “The Reporters”, a Sunday morning panel of reporters on one of the top national sports channels, they were asked if they “saw him coming” after Milos’ fourth round run. Two of the three said no. Hockey, baseball, and general-sports people who I would never, ever guess to tweet about tennis, have gone Milos crazy on my personal, non-tennis Twitter account.

As a Canadian tennis fan, this is a big, big deal. People are taking note. People are watching. Sportsnet is showing more tennis, and they’ve started to air Milos matches nationwide. People are talking about tennis. And from a guy who gets weird looks from a hockey crazed nation when he mentions he loves tennis, this is wicked exciting.

So saddle up, tennis nerds, Milos and his crazy Canadians might be here to stay.

With files from “The Milos Raonic Story (Part 1)” by Stephanie Myles.

Raonic vs. Roddick Live Blog

Posted by Brodie under: Dick, Memphis, Milos

20 Feb 2011

Welcome to the MTR live blogging of the Memphis final! Pull up a chair. I’ll be chiming in in below, as well as in comments in the actual post… and on Twitter. Please keep your comments respectful, so I don’t have to put on the filter and approve everything before they go through. Enjoy the match everyone!

Continually Crushing Crap

Posted by Brodie under: Marseille, Sodomy

20 Feb 2011

You were the number 4 well, good sir.

To say that the start of the year has been an impressive one for Sod would be quite the understatement. He’s won three titles, two in back to back weeks, and lost one match all year. That’s 1000 points from just titles.

Sure, two of them have been indoors, and this doesn’t have a huge impact on his chances at slams on different surfaces and in 5 sets. However, I think we can all agree that the questions around Sod and his consistency, as well as his legitimate shot at winning a slam are gone. In fact, I’d be likely to argue that the next in line outside of Fedal and Nole would be Sod. He’s working hard, fighting through tough matches, and hitting big. It will be interesting to see how he translates this momentum both at Indian Wells and Miami, as well as clay and eventually Roland Garros. Until then, make sure you know where he is in the draw.

Next Time, Kid

Posted by Brodie under: Memphis, Rebecca

20 Feb 2011

Rebecca Marino Memphis

Milos isn’t the only up and coming Canadian, eh?

It was a hell of a week for Rebecca, who has quietly and surely been improving her game and blazing a trail in the rankings over the past 8 months or so. The result shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, really, considering she won 3 $50k tournaments in a row at the end of last year, and the Memphis draw wasn’t the most daunting.

Unfortunately, she had to retire in the final with an abdominal injury that was clearly throwing her entire game out of alignment. The amount of errors was just horrible, really.

That being said, she was total class in her post-match interview and in her presser, and has the game and the power off both wings to stick around for some time. Milos may be the talk of the town right now, but expect Rebecca’s face to be gracing your morning Sportscentre loop for some time to come.

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap