AP Photo/Paul Sakuma via Daylife
We enjoyed a great bunch of finals this weekend, as the tour rolls on after Australia.
Young Canadian, Milos Raonic, made waves last month with his fourth round (plus qualifying) effort Down Under. He’s shown not only the talent, but the maturity, of a proverbial Real Deal. He made good on the hype this weekend in San Jose, where he won his first ATP title – in his first ATP final – over defending champ Fernando Verdasco: 7-6(6), 7-6(5), saving four set points in the first set tiebreaker. He’s the first Canadian to win an ATP singles title since 1995 and the first guy in what seems like ages to successfully rock the short(er) shorts. Yay, kneecaps!
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma via Daylife.com
He won $92,000, an NHL Hockey jersey (the tournament is played in the San Jose Sharks’ home stadium) and some maple syrup. Yes, he’s Canadian:
“It’s nice to know a hockey arena isn’t new to me,” Raonic said. “I’ve been in a few of these. This feels like home.” (via Tennis.com)
If you’re a budding Milos biographer, check out this story on his childhood coach, Casey Curtis.
Another young gun, Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, also played in his first ATP final this weekend. The “Dog” lost the Brasil Open title to top seed Nicolas Almagro: 6-3, 7-6(3). Gosh, it’s really exciting to see some rising stars emerge so early in the year, don’t you think?
The ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam was the biggest deal on the men’s tour this weekend, being the only ATP 500 tourny of the bunch (and the one with indoor fireworks). I was hoping for a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga victory – hey, it was my birthday, and I love the guy! – but alas, the charismatic Frenchman lost to Le Soderling: 3-6, 6-3, 3-6. It was the slamming Swede’s first ever title defense, hinting that he’s still going to be a Major force to be reckoned with in 2011.
The rising talent trend continued on the WTA side of things, as Petra Kvitova took out freshly minted No. 1, Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Open GDF Suez in Paris. The 20-year-old won a title in Brisbane and made it to the Quarter finals in Melbourne just last month, and is positioning herself to be the breakout star of 2011.
That’s some consolation prize, though:
Also on the ladies side, WTA veteran Daniela Hantuchova won (just) her fourth career title this weekend at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand, crushing Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2. She also scored an impressive 7-6(3), 6-4 in the semis over two-time defending champ Vera Zvonareva. It’s nice to see a talented player like Dani put it all together at a tournament for once – her last title came in 2007 and the 27-year-old has been plagued with mental frailty throughout her 13-year-long career. Perhaps Daniela’s benefiting from the Schiavone effect?
A win for traditionalists – Roland Garros will stay at Roland Garros, after a decision by French tennis federation officials this weekend. The Parisian site has been home to the French Open since 1928, but a need for expanded facilities and the various legal and bureaucratic challenges associated with building in Paris, has made alternative sites like Versailles and even Euro Disney attractive. The new plan is to grow the existing facilities by over ten acres, to cover Philippe Chatrier Court – opening up the possibility for night matches – and add a new 5,000 person show court all by 2016. Via the NYTimes.