I admit I had a hard time following all of the tennis action from the past week. We had the men and women in Brisbane, Roger and Rafa (and the mighty Kolya!) in Doha, Peer protests in New Zealand, an ATP tourny in India, Laura Robson making Andy Murray look good at the Hopman Cup in Perth, and then Sharapova, Venus and Wozniacki playing with a bunch of old dudes in a Hong Kong exo.
If like me, you chose to follow only your favorites, here’s some of what you may have missed:
I really hope you didn’t miss Kim Clijsters beating Justine Henin in a spectacular three-set match. (Click here for more.)
On the men’s side, Andy Roddick took out Radek Stepanek, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7), in the final. The scoreline looks routine enough, but Andy had a 4-0 lead in the second set before Radek fought back for a chance to serve out the set. The Czech failed to do so, but had a set point in the breaker. Roddick said after the match that he had to “hold on to the last shred of sanity” to win. Roddick was rattled by some questionable line calls, arguing with Fergus Murphy during the match and at one point ranting ”this whole week’s been an embarrassment for you guys,” in reference to the calls. Or maybe he was still shaky after being “breadsticked” in the first set of his semi vs. Tomas Berdych. But all’s well that ends well – especially when the Australian Open is a week away.
AP Photo/Ross Swanborough via Daylife
The Hopman Cup final pitted Team Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo against Andy Murray and the fifteen year old Laura Robson of Team Great Britain. The final matches held some surprises – the 403rd ranked Robson scored an upset over World No. 26 Martinez Sanchez and slight underdog Robredo took out Murray. The penultimate mixed doubles match was great fun – with the Spanish team pulling out the victory in a hard-fought straight sets.
After beating Andy in the singles, Tommy mentioned that he was motivated by dreams of the Hopman Cup’s diamond encrusted tennis ball trophy (174 diamonds, to be exact!). Ah, sweet satisfaction:
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images via Daylife
Regardless of the outcome, the young Robson was the star of the tournament – hanging tough against the adults and making her sourpuss teammate crack a smile occassionaly. Here’s what Andy had to say about his gem of a partner:
“I let Laura down so I feel bad about that. . .She is a little more disappointed than me because of the diamonds but I told her she can buy them with the prize money.” (The runners up share $150,000 Australian.)
Nikolay Davydenko def. Rafael Nadal for the Qatar Open title in Doha. Click here for highlights of that crazy match.
In India, Marin Cilic def. Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) for the title. Look for Cilic to be the sleeper pick in every tennis writers’ Aussie Open preview.
ASB CLASSIC, AUCKLAND
Yanina Wickmayer beat top seed Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-2 for the title in Auckland, New Zealand. The 16th-ranked Yanina, who is enjoying a reprieve from a ban related to not following drug testing procedures (click here for more), is forced to play qualifying to get into the Australian Open draw. Assuming she earns a spot, she’ll join countrywoman Justine Henin as a big time spoiler in the early rounds of the draw.
Phil Walter/Getty Images via Daylife
Also of note in Auckland, were the protests outside Israeli player Shahar Peer’s matches, which included megaphones, police arrests and likely influenced a bomb scare in the main stadium. (Peer held tough – making it to the semifinals vs. Wickmayer.) The Australian Open was the site of some politically charged scuffles last year – let’s hope things stay peaceful in Melbourne Park this January.
HONG KONG TENNIS CLASSIC
AP Photo/Kin Cheung via Daylife
After Marat Safin pulled out of this Hong Kong exhibition (he was to be one of the retired dudes paired up with current WTA stars in the team competition) I suddenly stopped caring about it. The official website apparently did, too. After some searching, I can report that Maria Sharapova scored the final point for Team Russia when she beat Caroline Wozniacki of Team Europe in straights. (Not bad, Maria!) It’s not so rosy for Maria’s teammate, Vera Zvonareva, who was forced to pull out of Sydney and is questionable for Melbourne due to aggravating her recently-operated-upon ankle.
And. . .the tennis tour surges on! Action is already underway at the co-ed Medibank International event in Sydney. The WTA has another event in Hobart and ATP moves to Auckland for the Heineken Open. The talent heavy Kooyong Classic exhibition starts on Wednesday in Melbourne, with the likes of Djokovic, del Potro, Soderling and Tsonga (but no Federer.) The Sydney TV schedule is here and live streaming ideas are here.