I'd like to introduce Jimmy, a new contributor to DtL! He'll be periodically penning previews + wrap-ups of tennis' major tourneys for us. So, without further ado, heeeere's Jimmy:
Another Sony Ericsson Open has come and gone, complete with the usual assortment of upsets, off-court antics, on-court antics, and one seriously hideous dress. This tournament is supposed to be about the actual tennis, but you wouldn’t know that this year with the abhorred handling of the broadcast by Fox Sports Network, which left even the professionals struggling to take a peek at a match or two. But that's all fine and dandy, because what was happening off the court was just as interesting, if not more so, than what occurred on it. A look back:
Part 1 – The Men’s Side
Perhaps the biggest story of the tournament was Andy Roddick. On the heels of his continued charity work, Roddick seemingly completed his transformation from the bad boy of the ATP tour to elder statesmen with his engagement to model Brooklyn Decker. And, what do you know, that lit a fire under A-Rod as he managed to defeat Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, his first win over Fed in almost five years! So he slays the beast and he gets the girl? I’m so jealous. Expect a baby announcement soon, if only to bet Federer to the punch.
Speaking of Federer, how many more “flukes” are we going to allow before we call a spade a spade? He lost in the semis at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells, now he falls in the quarters to A-Rod, whom he has basically owned ever since they started playing against each other. And I’m not sure how much longer the mono excuse is going to hold up. How did he get mono anyway? I thought only college students majoring in face-sucking get that?! The season started shaky for Fed down under and now it appears he’s sinking lower and lower.
In other ATP news, who can forget this indelible image Mikhail Youzhny’s bloody face after smacking himself repeatedly with his racquet during his match against Nicolas Almagro? Prior to this, Youzhny was best known for his cute if slightly sinister military-style salute (a remnant of his childhood days spent in Soviet youth programs?). I know coaches always tell their players to get their heads in the game, but this is ridiculous (ZING!). At the very least, Youzhny’s profile certainly increased tenfold after the incident, which is more than his consistent yet unspectacular game will ever do for him.
Speaking of consistency, Nikolay Davydenko entered the tournament ranked #4 in the world. I’m not quite sure how he has achieved that ranking since I honestly cannot recall the last major tournament he won - but now I can because he just won this one! Davydenko played Dream Killer at the 2008 SEO, taking out rising Serbian Janko Tipsarevic in the quarters (those Serbs are everywhere!), ending A-Rod’s fairy-tale like run in the semis, and crushing Nadal in the finals. Both Roddick and Nadal were coming off big wins against Federer and Blake and are no strangers to winning big tournaments, which makes Davydenko’s triumph all the more surprising. Perhaps now he can put those match-fixing scandals behind him. And if he betted on himself to win the tourney, well than more power to him.
Of course there were so many happenings during the tournament that I didn’t get to. But if the last two weeks have taught us anything, is that the ATP tour is swiftly becoming a free-for-all. You know things are crazy when the men’s game is even less predictable than the women’s. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Federer and Nadal would still be without a tournament title in April, I would have scoffed. But now here we are, and we haven’t even entered clay court season!
Stay tuned for Part II of my review of the Sony Ericsson Open, where I'll turn my attention to the ladies...
(image via AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Monday, April 7, 2008