First tennis viewing of the season! I’m feeling so fan-fresh and tennis-hungry that I watched the Meghann Shaunghnessy vs. Sabine Lisicki Hopman Cup match with nary a touch of the DVR’s fast forward button. It was worth it – I found my first hot prospect of 2009. The German girl may do some damage this year.
Hopman Cup is FUN. I love the “mixed” concept and wish that more small tournaments would choose this format. And the energetic crowds and atmosphere in Perth make for a cheerful, optimistic start to the season. I even enjoyed listening to the Aussie commentators chatting about Uruguayan wheat farming. Heck, why not? We’re all tennis fans here, aren’t we?
Maybe not so cheerful: Novak Djokovic after losing in straights (6-4, 6-4) to Latvian up-and-almost-arrived Ernests Gulbis in Brisbane today. Not a great lead up to the Serb’s title defense Down Under, but it wasn’t exactly an easy draw. As he said to the press afterward, there’s no need to panic. But the loss does highlight one of this year’s potentially fascinating story lines: how’s Djoky going to fare? His 2008 was undoubtedly great – he won his first-ever Major in Australia and the year-end championships in Shanghai, not to mention a silver medal at the Olympics and a couple Masters titles. But there were lows, too: he had a tough go of it with the crowds – both at the Aussie Open and the U.S. Open, for example – and suffered some frustrating losses to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and, most significant, to his buddy Andy Murray, who he’d dominated.
Not that he’s the only one losing to Murray, lately.
What I’m really trying to say is: I’m so EXCITED for the Australian Open to begin!
Until then, I’m hoping for Russia vs. France at Hopman Cup. Whoo Hoo!
Random thought – can you believe that James Blake just turned 30 years old? I wonder how he’ll hold up this year – can he still improve?
Oh, and FEDOPHILES, start your engines: click here to read Steve Tignor’s scarily optimistic take on Roger Federer’s 2009 season. (Now I have to invent a ritual to reverse the journalistic jinx. Any suggestions?)