Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Doing a doubles take

If you happen to be a fan of "dubs," there's some really good matches on tap at the Sony Ericsson Open today. I know both the ATP and WTA have had to make adjustments to keep doubles alive today, such as the Match Tie-Break and on the men's side, providing initiatives for more singles players to participate. It's a hard sell for tournament sponsors, but there's exciting things going on with four people on the court as well. Here's a look at some of the matches that any tennis nut or casual fan should enjoy watching:

Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (1) vs. Simon Aspelin/Julian Knowle: While Roger Federer's struggles have been well-documented, his counterparts on the doubles side are also slumping in a big way. The Bryans (pictured), who I think have the tools to be the best doubles team of all time, have yet to win a tournament this year (although, unlike Federer, they're at least making finals). Reigning U.S. Open champs Aspelin and Knowle can definitely go into this match with a lot of confidence. Like I mentioned in an earlier post about Miami being the most important tournament of Federer's career, I think the same can be said for the Bryans here.

Lindsay Davenport/Daniela Hantuchova vs. Katerina Srebotnik/Ai Sugiyama (2): You would think based on sheer power alone, LD/DH should be able to blast anybody they face off the court, but Srebotnik and Sugiyama are as veteran a pair as they come, and while they might be kind of on the slighter side in this match, bet on them coming through. They know enough to keep Davenport and Hantuchova (who, don't get me wrong, are both good doubles players) off balance.

Mahesh Bhupathi/Mark Knowles (4) vs. Paul Hanley/Leander Paes (8): Since the "Indian Express" has been off track for a few years now, it's always intriguing to see Paes and Bhupathi on opposite sides of the net. Bhupathi and Knowles have been one of the hottest teams on tour this year, while Paes and Hanley (pictured) have yet to click. I'm rooting for Bhupathi and Knowles to come through because: A) I like Knowles and I thought it was pretty lame for Daniel Nestor to break up their long-running partnership, so I hope Knowles gets the last laugh and B) I'm not that big a Paul Hanley fan. I think Leander will find out, just like Kevin Ullyett did, that Hanley is not clutch material.

Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (7) vs. Jeff Coetzee/Wesley Moodie: Based on the shot-making ability alone of Clement and Llodra, this match should be highly entertaining. Both of these teams are kind of built similarly: Powerful shot-makers (Llodra, Moodie) paired with smaller, steady guys (Clement, Coetzee). The seeded French pair should be able to top the solid South Africans, who have had a pretty good year.

Victoria Azarenka/Shahar Peer (7) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova/Amelie Mauresmo (WC): This is an interesting matchup, with these four being primarily singles players. However, I think this match is most important to the sole future Hall-of-Famer in the bunch, Mauresmo. Her confidence could really use a boost.

And a good thing about watching doubles, you get to see four players for the price of two!

(Photos: Getty Images)