Google Down the Line!: VANtage Point: Welcome to Van, a look at Johannesburg

Monday, February 2, 2009

VANtage Point: Welcome to Van, a look at Johannesburg

(Hey readers! Meet Van Sias, writer of the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone? and a new contributor to DtL. He'll be taking a weekly look at one of the upcoming tourneys and giving his picks on who'll come out on top. Welcome Van!)

Now that the Australian Open is out of the way, we can get on with other things, such as the launch of VANtage Point!

What’s up? My name is Van Sias and I publish a blog called Tennis Talk, Anyone? In a whole cross-marketing, cross-over, cross-pollinating thing going on, I’m going to write something for Down the Line! each week where I spotlight one of the many tournaments on the ATP and WTA tours — even taking into consideration the Challenger and ITF tournaments, too.

In case you’re wondering why you’d want to check this out, just know this: There’s almost nothing I’d rather do than break down draw sheets and make predictions on tournaments, and I’ve been that way for 20 years now. (Well, there are other things I like to do, but this stuff is near the top!)

Anyway, here’s how it goes: First , I’ll comment on an event last week or the one I spotlighted, then I’ll mention this week’s pick. I’ll give you a “Player to Watch” and make my predictions for the semifinals.

So without further ado, here’s the first VANtage Point!

A Look Back: The first major of 2009 has come and gone with Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams taking the crowns. My favorite moment of the tournament? The trophy presentation after the men’s final. Not many guys will admit this, but I’m a pretty emotional dude and I think I was bawling right along with Rog Federer! Good luck to him and hats off to the winners.

This Week’s Spotlight: To me, this is when the season really starts. You have months before another major, so it’s just players getting out there doing the work to set themselves up for the remaining Grand Slams. That being said, there’s a lot of action going on this week and the first tournament I’ve got my eye on is the ATP 250 stop in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This is the first time in a long time the Tour’s been in SA with a regular tour event and there’s a few big names sprinkled in the draw. The top two seeds are my boy Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (yeah, he is: Dude is the real deal) and David Ferrer. Check out the draw here.

Player to Watch: Now this is who I really have my eyes on there, and I’m saying it here first at the Point to look out for him the rest of the year: Marcos Baghdatis. I think if he’s healthy, he’s going to do some damage this season. Plus, he seems pretty dedicated: I mean, anytime someone gets a haircut that means they’re focused, right?

The Final Four: Jo-Willy over Bjorn Phau; the Bagh Man over Benjamin Becker.

And the Winner Is: Tsonga in a tough one.

There you have it: the first VANtage Point! It won’t be so long next time, but check back to see how I made out.

(image via Getty)


  1. Welcome Van! I look forward to your commentary. I too, love to break a draw down and see how accurate I can be with the outcome.

  2. I'd love for Bjorn Phau to win, if only because half his blood is from my country.

    But he plays some awesome tennis too.

    And he doesn't look too bad. >_<

  3. exciting! should be fun reading you.

  4. Hey, Van!

    Love VANtage Point!

    1. Thanks for spotlighting some of the tournaments I might otherwise overlook. It is an interesting time on tour - when it's more of a job than a go for glory. (Sign me up!)

    2. Good to hear some male perspective on the Fed sobbing thing. Sorry you were crying though, maybe there was some new-parent exhaustion?

    3. Benjamin Becker, huh? Now you're just showing off ;)

    Keep it coming!

  5. This is very cool - here's to a great 2009 season!!

    BTW, I realize this is WAY off subject, but between you and Rich (or any DtL readers, I suppose) I figure someone will have the answer to this: where the heck is Youzhny?? Did he play the AO and I just didn't realize it? Or is he injured or something? I don't why I all the sudden thought about this, but now I feel like I totally need answers. Help me out guys!! :) Thanks!

  6. anon 2:58 - he went down in the Oz opening round to Koubek 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. bad loss in his basket.

  7. Oh snap! That's def a stinker. Thanks for the info, Rich!

  8. Hey everyone! Thanks for the welcoming!

    • Hey Pamela! Glad to hear I'm not the only one out there doing it!

    • Hey Babz, his game is pretty sick. I'm surprised he hasn't made a bigger dent yet in his career. But I think this season could be his breakthrough.

    • Thanks T, I hope so!

    • Freakyfrites, I can't take any of the credit on the name: Rich came up with it. I wish I would've; it is my name after all! You think I'd be able to find some use for it!

    I felt a tear come to my eye just thinking about Federer (or maybe it's because the baby just woke up again after I finally put her down)!

    And Becker won a Challenger over the weekend, so I'm assuming he's in good form. I also like Chardy in his section of the draw, but I could only pick one, so I went with BB.

    • Hey Anon 2:58. I also found this and it's funny loking at the news updates. It must be poor form:

    That Koubek loss is pretty horrible.

  9. Hey van! The sad news/good news openers are a little weird. In any event, seems like there's much more sad news to report :(

    BTW, just saw he dropped 22 places to No. 62 in the world. 22 places! OUCH.

  10. That is a drop: Ouch indeed!

    And Phau's already out. He could've at least won one round!

  11. Hey Van! It's nice to see your contribution here in DtL! I haven't really got the chance to follow up on this tourney yet but looks like Tsonga is the favourite to win here.

  12. VAN!!! love the new spot, since I"m addicted to your site! I'll be checking you out for sure!

  13. There goes my $5....

    Btw, I'm sorry to not say this sooner. Welcome Van, I read your blog from time to time.. I'm excited to read more of VANtage point!

  14. Welcome Van! Thanks for your contribution - I will surely check it out!

    I also hope Marcos Baghdatis can make another appearance this year. He's been so unlucky with injuries in the past, but there's so much potential and fighting spirit. Gotta love this guy! Hope he can somewhat make a comeback this season!


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