Thursday, May 1, 2008

Veterans' day

While perusing the scores of the various ATP and WTA tournaments around Europe, something very intriguing caught my eye: Namely Marat Safin and Younes El Aynaoui making the quarterfinals at the BMW Open in Munich. I have to tell you something that may be thought of as a crazy statement: Watch out for these two for the rest of the year. You're probably thinking, "I think Van's brain is still on vacation," but here's why I'm saying this:

First of all, everyone on the ATP tour knows when his head is on right, Safin (left) is one of the top-five talents out there. That being said, his head hasn't been on right for quite some time, with him not sniffing a final in a while. But he's had some pretty good clay-court wins, starting with that five-set win over Tomas Berdych in Davis Cup. I wouldn't be surprised if he won this week; I definitely think he's turning the corner.

El Aynaoui (bottom left) has been off the radar for years and years now. But when he's healthy as he appears to be now, watch out. He's on a hot streak now, having just won a Challenger in Switzerland, qualifying in Munich and winning a couple of rounds. In a flashback note, one of the most exciting matches I've ever watched at the U.S. Open was in 2003 and it involved Younes and this 17-year-old, fist-pumping kid from Spain who had a penchant for digging wedgies out before every return and serve. The veteran came through, but you knew that kid was going to be the real deal. Any guesses on who that kid was? : )

While I'm not expecting Safin and El Aynaoui to end up in the top 10 or pick up a Slam this year, I can definitely see both of them punching holes in draws in '08. And Younes better watch out for that kid he beat at the Open years ago!

(Photos: AP)


Shelia said...

I particularly agree with what you've said about El Aynaoui, but both he and Safin are two of my favorite players.

Veteran's Day, HA!

Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Hey Sheila! It would be great to see both of those two make comebacks. They're pretty exciting players when things are going good.