Sunday, 22 February 2009

Dubai Beauty-Free...

The tit-for-tat continues in Dubai as the event organisers claimed that Andy's withdrawal had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the scheduling problems he'd face having made it to the final of Memphis (a tournament he won I'm happy to say, finally putting a stop to Radek and his one-man pageant).

I just want to say one more thing about the whole affair before putting this ugly mess to bed. There can be no doubt that the whole thing was a very badly handled episode on the part of the powers that be in Dubai. Shahar deserved to play here and wasn't allowed to. As we've heard so often this last week, sports and politics really shouldn't mix, not least because you run the risk of trivialising what are generally considered deeply upsetting events. But I also find it worrying that large parts of the media display uncanny insensitivity by continuing to act as if there is no history involved, choosing instead to run with the rather more safe 'sport'n politics don't mix' headline.

Millions around the globe see it differently - just sayin'.

On a more positive note, one of our girls has just cracked the top 50. I'm sure you'll permit me a Stepanek like side-trot -- actually I'll go with the Vicht-Salute on the grounds of good taste -- we've had to wait 16 years for this. I started to take notice when I heard Keothavong was through to the semis at Memphis where she suffered a rather less uplifting 6-1,6-0 defeat to Caroline Wozniacki. Ouch. I also find her references to unprofessionalism within the LTA quite interesting. Anyone know what that is all about?

Tsonga took the title in Marseille last week. I'm loving the way he's begun his campaign in 2009. The injuries seem to be well handled; and I'm detecting signs of some much needed poise in his recent performances - we all know how dangerous he is at his most explosive - his ranking though, might demand more measured and sustained performances throughout the year.

As thrilled as I am for Tsonga, his win here included yet another dismantling of Djoko, whose number 3 ranking is beginning to look less and less convincing. I don't know - it's not as if the Scot behind him was that electric in his Dubai opening match today - but Andy seems to have it cracked against most of the opposition (though by the sounds of it will be in no hurry to leave his more palatial quarters).

Djoko is now 1-4 against Tsonga. In 2008, he lost 2 out his 3 matches against Federer (who was if you remember having a pretty bad time of it), 4 out of 6 against Nadal (2 out of 3 if you exclude clay courts) and 2 out of 3 against Murray. If Tsonga and Roddick continue to beat up on him, that Serbian dream may remain just that. Here's hoping he turns it around in Dubai and IndianWells/Miami. The top of the game will be so much the better for it.
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