Monday, March 17, 2008

Since I've been gone...

There's been a LOT going on in the tennis world since I've last posted something. Sorry for the delay; never will that happen again--I'd hate to have to do another recap like I'm about to do now!

• First, let me go back to Australia. Congrats to Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova. As I've mentioned before, I thought Novak still had some thumpings to take from Federer, particularly in Slams, but I don't think that's really gonna be the case any more, seeing as how their semifinal match went. I think Maria will be the first female player to balance dominance with the off-court stuff, something the Williams sisters and (a blast from the past here) Anna Kournikova were never able to do. (Photo credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

And staying in Australia, howzabout my man Jo-Willie! I told you he'd do big things there! (Well, he actually lost the coin toss in my pick between he and Murray, but I knew the winner of that match would do OK! How's that for backtracking?)

• The U.S. Davis Cup team dropped hammers in Austria in the first round, which was something that I didn't really see coming. If they can go in and sweep some tough Austrians on clay, then I think a repeat could be in store.

• The South African claycourt swing came and went, and Nicolas Almagro came away with two titles: Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco. You've read it here first: top 10 after the French Open.

• The Andys (Murray and Roddick) and Michael Llodra also have two titles each on the year. OK, I can see the Andys pulling that off, but Llodra? If Llodra kind of cuts back on the doubles playing, I can see him finishing in the top 20 by the end of the year.

• Serena broke her titleless drought by winning in Bangalore, and for the first time in what seems like an eternity actually played Venus in a tournament! Venus hasn't really been great shakes this year, but I could see her doing well come Wimbledon time.

• Ma Davenport has added another title to the post-baby haul, winning in Memphis. I think what's going to be key to monitoring her comeback is seeing how she plays in the big tournaments. She managed to blow my Aussie Open prediction for her by losing to Sharapova, but let's see how she does in Indian Wells before really declaring that she's back in my opinion.

• Another Andy Roddick note: He FINALLY got rid of Jimmy Connors as a coach! Sure, Jimbo motivated him out of that slump in '06, but what has he done for him lately? I think if Andy wants to win another slam, he's gonna have to go back to Brad Gilbert, or if that's totally unacceptable, start calling Andre Agassi every week and maybe picking his brain: someone that learned from Brad and someone he respects. Or if that doesn't work, here's some advice: Mix up your serve, blast forehands. On return games, get the return back, blast inside-out forehands. That advice was free: It'll cost next time!

• And last but not least, what the heck is going on with Roger Federer? Playing Pete Sampras close in an exhibition was great for tennis, but bad losses and bad comments aren't good. Hopefully, sour grapes don't keep creeping in and he can get back on his historical run.