After the fairy tale in New York…

Nov 9, 2009

As the fairy dust started to settle after the climax of the US Open, those who only follow the Grand Slams switched off and started to wait patiently for the build up to the Australian Open. If anyone else has kept an eye on the various ATP and WTA tournaments since the end of September, they will know that it’s hardly been a quiet time since Juan Martin del Potro caused jaws to drop to the floor. You’d think that with all the grand slam excitement over, the rest of the season would dribble out into a quiet goodbye. Quite the opposite.

I think the best way to go about summarising the last month or so is to move through the major tournaments, looking at who flourished or dive-bombed at each. I will deal with any Davis Cup victories/defeats in later blogs.

After the drama in America, the attention turned to East Asia. In China at the end of October, Marin Cilic caused a bit of a stir by sending Nadal from the tournament in the semi-finals. The Croat giant beat the Majorcan 6-1 6-3 in one hour and 22 minutes. Rafa was beset by knee and stomach problems, something which everyone in tennis will be keeping an eye on as the end of the year starts to round up.

It was Novak Djokovic, however, who finally lifted the trophy. And despite all the effort Murray had put in during the year, his highest ranking to date was taken away from him by the Serb who reclaimed his world no. 3 spot after the win(Murray himself had to pull out of the event in China due to a wrist injury that was aggravated by his Davis Cup matches against Poland).

The WTA also moved to China, where Serena Williams fell at the third round to Nadia Petrova. The local heroes pulled out all the stops , with Peng Shuai beating Maria Sharapova to advance to the quarter finals. Still, its impressive to see Sharapova hanging on in there. She has leapt up the rankings since her return, but questions are still lying unanswered as to whether she can reclaim her former world no. 1 ranking. In the end, Svetlana Kuznetsova took the title, beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-4.

The focus of end of October/beginning November has now turned to Europe. Places were being fiercely fought for some players to ensure they could play at the ATP World Tour Finals. Speaking of the finals, so far the qualifiers are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick. Currently, Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko are fighting for seventh and eighth place.

Outside of this race to London, Roger Federer was beaten at his home town of Basel, Switzerland in the Swiss Indoors final by Novak Djokovic (again, another win for the Serb. A sign for the year to come?) As disappointed as it must have been, Federer has been using this relatively quiet time of the year to spend quality time with his new family. On the 22nd October, the status of his official Facebook page read: “I have also had a chance to spend some amazing time with my family. Myla and Charlene are doing great. After training yesterday, Mirka and I took them for a walk along Lake Zurich. I am always excited to be back in Switzerland!”

So despite the sting, he is down to do well at the ATP World Tour Finals and appears to be looking forward to the year ahead with his usual brand of calm collectiveness. Well, we wouldn’t really expect anything different.

The Valencia Open has just come to a close, with Andy Murray taking the title after a 6-3 6-2 win over Mikhail Youzhny. This has, of course, caused a frenzy in the world of Murray mania. Despite it being a relatively obscure title (particularly with Paris and London coming up), it appears to be a good enough excuse for the old greats to start building him up as the next grand slam winner. It’s never too early, apparently. The first former champ to get in with some Murray-lovin’ after this last win is Andre Agassi, hailing Andy to be the player who will win multiple grand slams once he has the first under his belt. Oh Agassi, don’t be a sheep. Can’t you have a bit of imagination back someone else? No?

Well, maybe this year will be the year. The knocks and disappointments of the past eleven months will have hopefully given him and his fans a grounded perspective of the year to come. He could do it this year, but there must be a reason why he hasn’t so far when the four other top five world players have done. He just needs to find the reason and deal with it.

So what is to come? Excitement is gearing up in Paris, with the Masters tournament one of the most notable for those not able to qualify for the ATP World Tour finals. Marin Safin, for example, has started the final tournament of his career with a victory in the first round. Everybody will be keeping an eye on who will make it to the last places in the London line-up, but with this being the penultimate major event of the year for most of the players it should definitely make for some interesting viewing.

The very last main event of the year will be the AEGON Masters Tennis in London, England finishing on the 6th December. And then, finally, those poor players get to rest tired limbs and have a well-deserved rest. Until then, we need to enjoy as much tennis as possible to store up for the cold, baron month of December. Thankfully, there seems that there will be plenty of opportunities to do just that over the next few weeks.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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