Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Monte Carlo Fallout.

-- Rafa and Big-Berd have pulled out of Barcelona.

The heavens themselves (much to the chagrin of the Barcelona promoters) could be heard to breath a sigh of relief as Rafa, for the first time in five years, elected to pull out of Barcelona.

“I’m in perfect shape,” Nadal said Tuesday. “I feel very good but I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year. For my tennis to be at the right level, I have to be physically well and that’s my principal objective.”

“I’m being as cautious as possible so that I can play the maximum amount possible,” Nadal said. “It wasn’t planned. Tennis isn’t like football, you never know how many games you’re going to have to play.”

-- tennis.com

Perfect shape? Perhaps not, but still exactly the type of tempering of his clay court schedule many of us have been hollering out for. For too long it seems.

Perhaps, with the relatively sodden ten or so months he’s had, and with the eagerness that might foster to get back on dirt, 2010 ought to be an exception. But I’d go as far as saying that missing Monte from next year wouldn’t be the worst decision in the world either. Much like Federer has.

Why, of all people, should Rafa need any more than Rome and Madrid (both mandatory events) to find his feet on clay?

-- Berdych. This year’s Robin Soderling?

Not in terms of inflicting tsunami-like upsets on our generation’s best or narking Rafaelites off so very much - more in terms of late-blooming, suppressing daemons and establishing a more credible and worthy presence at the top of the game. Discuss.

-- Nalbandian out for two events with a hamstring injury. Possible return in Madrid.

Not what you want to hear after witnessing his anatomy-defying “hip” exploits over the past month.

Take solace if you can, however, in noting that it could be worse. Much worse.

Hip surgery remains a career-ender for the most part, ushering in a post-traumatic age where simply remaining competitive begins to make one resemble those foolhardy salmon that hurl themselves the wrong way up a waterfall.

Very often into the jaws of a hungry bear. Guys like Kohlschreiber for example.

I don’t detect anything nearly so grim in Daveed’s case but maybe, like Nadal, there’s something to be said on the benefits of a more staggered comeback.

-- Stosur demolished Bepa 6-0 6-3 to pick up her second career singles title and her first ever on clay.

“This is bigger than Osaka, and to do it here and on clay and be playing well all week and everything is just a great feeling,” Stosur said. “You can’t really compare the two, but this is definitely a bigger event, and I’m very pleased that I was able to play so well.”

-- tennis.com

Darn right it’s bigger than Osaka. Before the great WTA Premier switchover of 2009, Charleston was a tier one event, with an illustrious Champions Roll of Honour (Evert won here eight times) and a well-respected sponsor in Family Circle.

Sammy’s efforts have landed her a #10 ranking.

Much has been made of the dilapidated state of the draw, but only that pedantic analyst would elect not to grossly fanfare about her having largely followed up on her well-publicised intent to target singles – and who knows, maybe pick up a title or two? And I currently have him in a headlock.

She’ll find it considerably tougher going repeating her great run of RG 2009, especially given the way in which the presence of the Belgians might affect things, but she’s as well placed to score a high profile upset as she’s ever been.

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