Shshshshsh, quiet, QUIET....hear that? That's the sound of the Tennis off season, when tennis blogs either shut down completely or bore you senseless with tales of their own on court escapades.
I'm going to try and continue to post and although I don't promise to always steer clear of my own experience on court, will for the most part be trying to keep it staggeringly real. Real enough to see us through to the new year anyway, which is when Hopman Cup gets under way.
I haven't always followed Hopman Cup; in fact to be honest, I only watched it thoroughly for the first time at the beginning of this year, when Serena and Mardy Fish defeated Djokovic and (it has to be said a rather weary) Jankovic.
This year the line up includes wait for it....the sibling partnership of Marat Safin and Dinara Safina. They're seeded #2. As if that weren't electrifying enough, Serena Williams is returning to defend her title, this time with James Blake. If these number one and two seeded partnerships make it to the final, one can only imagine the atmosphere that's sure to ensue on court. The action gets under way on the 3rd January.
Except we're not quite done with this year yet, are we? There's this small matter of a certain Cup to be won in Argentina. Ever since Nadal announced his withdrawal from the Davis Cup Final, most of the smart money has been on Argentina. But Spain's plight is not as hapless as it might seem.
You have to favour Nalbandian in his singles opener against Ferrer. Ferrer predictably, hasn't been able to follow up on his 'over performance' of last year and Nalbandian, who seems to make a habit of blossoming late in the season, thrives at Davis Cup.
I can't ascribe the same level of confidence to Del Potro, however. I find him somewhat stiff in both movement and temperament and not terribly creative on court: in other words, exactly the kind of player whom Lopez (a leftie and a deft volleyer with an annoying penchant for unpredictable and somewhat inconvenient peaks) will enjoy irritating. Having said that, you don't need me to tell you what kind of dizzying heights Del Potro's form has been reaching recently. I just think things could go horribly awry for him, if he doesn't dominate Lopez from the outset.
One last thing: could someone explain why Federer is playing Abu Dhabi (exhibition), Doha (ATP) and Kooyong (exhibition) in the three weeks leading up to the Aussie Open? I know he'll get a lot of down time before the new year, but surely with his back complaint, that's a little much. Correct me if I'm wrong, but he's played less at this time in previous years and that's when he's been fully fit. It just seems the wrong way to go about launching his Grand Slam bid for 2009 - one which (I would hope) is meant to improve on the slightly lacklustre (by his standards) 2008.
Lopez/Verdasco image by pseudorlaya