At the outset of the Roger's Cup in Toronto, here are a few of my penniless thoughts:
1) Don't-cry-for-me David:
I believe David Nalbandian has earned his place as an ATP enigma. He's a stalwart, a grinder and a very, very talented striker of the ball. I'm not surprised he hasn't won a slam (although he does rank higher than Davydenko in my greatest-slamless-players list), but I do sometimes wonder why his major results haven't been more consistent.
Injury? Yes. Big game mentality? Maybe not.
I used to remember him as the guy who let Hewitt cakewalk his way to a Wimbledon title but that was until he shocked a wounded Federer in the 2005 Shanghai final. And then he defeated Federer and Nadal consecutively in two Masters series events. Now he's in the news because he captured the Legg Mason title after hip surgery (irony anyone?).
So is this a resurgence? Yes. Will he go deep into the second week at Flushing Meadows? Probably not. But with Nalbandian, you never know. He has the ability to cause discomfort to any top ranked player when healthy. He also has the ability to lose a first round match. I can't wait to find out. As of right now, he just ground out a three setter against Ferrer in Toronto. Next up, Tommy Robredo.
2) Absent Americans:
Lament the absence of an American man in the Top 10 (this is the first time ever) but those glory days of Chang, Courier, Sampras and Agassi aren't coming back. Roddick will return, but the next best hope for a 'top 10er' is probably one of the two talented young beanpoles making waves on the circuit.
Isner or Querrey? That's akin to flipping a coin so I'm going with the marathon man. Anyway, Bruce Jenkins explains what effect Roddick's retirement could have. It's worth a read.
3) Milestone Man:
It might sound boring but one-title Roger Federer has reached another milestone if you feel like making a relatively safe bet. In Masters Series play, the Swiss maestro needs to win his opener against Juan Ignacio Chela to overtake Agassi for the maximum number of matches won in Master's series history. A less safe bet is that Federer needs to win the title to overtake Vilas and tie Borg for career ATP titles won.
I'm betting on the former happening first.
4) Deadly Duo:
For the first time in the history of the rankings, the world's top two men decided to team up and play doubles! Any time in the past and it would have been Federer and Nadal but there's no status-quo anymore is there?
Nadal teamed up with Djokovic and probably realized that it wasn't the Miami Heat of the NBA (not that they've won anything yet either). The two lost their opener against youth (I can't believe I'm saying this), in the form of 19-year-old Canadian Raonic and 20-year-old countryman Pospisil. Ah! So much for that experiment.
5) Upset Special:
Spare more than a thought for Canadian Peter Polansky who upset Jurgen Melzer in a Toronto opener. Four years ago, in Mexico for a Davis Cup match, Polansky was sleepwalking when he believed he saw an intruder wielding a knife hovering over him. He jumped out, ran through his third storey window and landed on some shrubs that probably saved his life.
While doctors debated whether to amputate his left leg, Polansky finally came out after five hours of surgery and 400 stitches with his leg! After his 7-6, 6-4 upset Polansky said, "I played unbelievable. I played my best tennis. I had some good practice against some top guys (including Roger Federer)..." Aha! So there's the good luck charm! Nerves. Check. Courage. Check.
Here's a toast to Peter Polansky.
Enjoy the Roger's Cup and the women's action in Cincinnati where Ana Ivanovic rallied from 6-2, 5-3 down to defeat Vika Azarenka. Also, for the blatant or latent Seles fan in you, here are a few fan tributes to the great champion.
Have a good week!