Time to kick the 2011 season with an entry on the first tennis week of the year. Yes, there is a Chennai final to be played, but that can be left for the comments and it's a bit of a Mickey Mouse event. At the same time the ATP are a Mickey Mouse organisation for a lot of the time.
Starting off in the throbbing metropolis known as Doha the capital of the oil, cash rich and banking the FIFA payroll of Qatar. Roger Federer won the tournament again as he has done numerous times. It was not too difficult for him as he continues the form from the end of last season. Sure at the end of 2010 was good for Federer, but it will count for nowt if he can't defend his Australian Open title in a couple of weeks. As for his chances of defending, only a blind delusional fool would write him off.
It was an excellent week for the PMK as well. Davydenko had an indifferent run since coming back from injury, but for him the match up against Federer is very difficult. For all of the great timing on the PMK's groundies when he is on his game, Federer has the tools to make it uncomfortable for him, especially with the slice backhand. He is able to expose Davydenko by getting him off the baseline with the wide angle slice and then dominate the rallies from there, this in addition to the fact that Davydenko doesn't hit a very heavy ball unlike Nadal where he can break down Federer's backhand or lacks the variation that Murray has.
In spite of the above it was pleasant to see Davydenko take out Nadal again. He has the upper hand in their match up, which is not a surprise as with his game, as he is able to take time away from Nadal and while overall Nadal has become more aggressive, he is still vulnerable to players who hit a flat and powerful ball. Of course as usual whenever Nadal loses a match, there are always some excuses flying around. He was ill earlier in the week, it's not like he had dengue fever or malaria. Just a case of the sniffles, but it was not so bad that he couldn't withdraw from the tournament and was well enough to win the doubles with Marc Lopez.
Good on Marc Lopez reinventing himself as a doubles specialist after struggling with injuries during the singles career, along with a lack of weapons besides massive legs. He fights hard like most Spaniards ( no this doesn't mean you LaLo), but carrying a very ill and on his deathbed Nadal to a dobules title, hope he can do well at the Aus Open though if he is playing with Boredo, it might be better for him as the sparring partner for Nadal.
Onto Brisbane, an excellent week for the Robin "the Toad" Söderling who won the title without losing a set. He and his new coach "Pisto" aka Claudio Pistolesi have a 100% record at the moment, will be interesting to see how they work together. Magnus Norman was a great influence on the Toad, not just on the court but off the court. Not exactly sure why they split, sure part of it is the academy but there is more to it than the official reason.
Söderling was just too good for Andy Roddick, it definitely helped that the weather was so shit in Brisbane this week and the roof was closed for much of the event. The Toad loves playing under a roof, as with his 10m balltoss on the serve which is not going to be impacted by wind or sun position, so he can just wait and hammer it down which he was doing all week.
He didn't face a break point at all on serve, not that Roddick is like Federer, Murray or Ferrer on the return of serve. Nevertheless it's still an excellent performance especially since the Toad doesn't have a great finals record. The rallies were a mismatch a lot of the time with Roddick just defending and not hitting the groundies with any intent, whereas Söderling was able to rally comfortably as he wasn't been moved around at all. Then was able to take advantage of the inevitable fodder that Roddick produced and pummeled clean winners or unreturnable shots.
Rawdick didn't use the slice backhand enough, not that it's a shot of beauty but if something isn't working, then time to try something else. Using the slice to be able to get Toad off the baseline is a good tactic, as he is as comfortable going forward as a turkey at Christmas time when it's not on his own terms. Söderling had a lot of break points, while he wouldn't be happy with the overall break point conversion, he was in a position where it felt like he couldn't lose the match.
Of course Rawdick was up to his umpire berating antics when things weren't going well for him. A contradictory character Roddick is, maybe he suffers from white line fever, then it could be he is just an arsehole but one with redeeming features if you look hard enough. The Brisbane venue which has a roof of sorts, well they spent so much money on the venue and charge more than the Aus Open for tickets, you think it would be possible for them to have a roof that didn't allow water to come into venue. Duck Boy was complaining about the court, but Fergus "the midget" Murphy had the situation under control. Just an excuse to let off steam, but good to see Söderling put him out of his misery.
Chennai well 2 players with shit finals records are in the final. The talented but temperamental Belgian Xaiver Malisse who has won this title before is the massive underdog against Stani Wawrinka, who has had some interesting off court distractions with the break up of his marriage. These things aren't easy in the regular world, let alone for a pro sportsperson. Sad thing is that there is a little child involved, most important thing is that she gets love from both parents in spite of their break up.
To end this rather rambling entry, the sexy Slovenian Blaz Kavcic made the quarter finals of Chennai, this is a big surprise but he is a cool guy, who despite the poor serve is making the most of his abilities.
Next report will be from the Aus Open qualies