Ahhh, nothing like basking in the glow of victory!
After picking the first correct champ in weeks here at VANtage Point, I decided to treat myself to a mini-vacation: I figured since I was down in Monte Carlo watching VP pick Rafael Nadal storm his way to victory, I might as well stay down there a few extra days. I deserved it after all those missed calls. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like Monte Carlo in the springtime!
(I can dream, can’t I?)
Anyway, now that I’m back (to reality) it’s VP time!
A Look Back: So this might’ve been the biggest no-brainer pick of them all that I’ve made, but Rafa took home his fifth Masters 1000 Monte Carlo title in a row, beating Novak Djokovic in a pretty decent three-setter. Nadal was my only semifinal pick to get that far: Andy Murray, Djoko and Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat the newlywed Roger Federer, all had better runs than I expected. I might have to revise my original train of thought about Murray on the dirt this year. And I think Djokovic will have a pretty strong clay-court season, too.
This Week’s Spotlight: “Hey, where are all the WTA tournaments this week?” you might be asking yourself. Well, readers, the answer is the calendar’s cleared off this week for Fed Cup. (“VANtage Point: Where we have all the answers”!) The WTA’s Davis Cup counterpart is down to the semifinals this weekend with national powerhouse and defending champs Russia traveling to Italy and the little-underdog-that-could U.S. squad heading to the Czech Republic. There’s also some intriguing playoff ties, such as Serbia vs. Spain and France vs. Slovak Republic, among the match-ups.
Players to Watch: Russia has three top 10 players it’s throwing out there—Vera Zvonareva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova—but I’m not tagging them as the ones to watch. (New world number-one Dinara Safina and number-three Elena Dementieva aren’t making the trip.) Rather, I think you should watch out for their Italian opponents, particularly Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone and Roberta Vinci. Schiavone and Vinci have been playing really well the past few weeks, and Pennetta’s always pretty tough. Even though on paper, they’re the underdogs, you have to wonder what playing at home will do for them on their favorite surface.
As for the other semifinal, the top U.S. player on the team, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, is making her Fed Cup debut—and doing that on the road in a later round is always tough, no matter who you are. For the Czech squad, I really want to see what Lucie Safarova does. She was supposed to be a solid top-tenner by now, but we all know that hasn’t happened. If she’s chosen to play, can she be a possible weak link?
And while it’s just a playoff tie, that Serbia-Spain one can be a dogfight with all the players on both squads going all-out.
And the Winners Are: You know what? I’m going to go with Italy in the upset, taking the tie 3-2. As for the other one, I think the matches will be closer than anyone would expect, but I still see the Czech Republic beating the U.S. 4-1.
Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?
(images via getty)