Well, maybe Victoria Azarenka's first time is a little different than Ryan Sweeting and Pablo Andujar's, but it's still a nice one, nonetheless!
All three won the first clay-court titles of their career this past weekend, taking tournaments in Spain, Houston and Morocco, respectively. Azarenka rolled into Andalucia after winning one of the biggest tournaments out there in Miami, then dropped the fewest games in a title-winning run this year for the women at 19. Sweeting took advantage of a wildcard given to him by the tournament organizers and won the whole shebang, taking out Kei Nishikori in the finals, for his first ATP World Tour crown. And Andujar pounded Potito Starace in the last match to join Sweeting in the first-time winners' circle.
So, here's a quick thought about each of them:
* Honestly, with the way things are in the women's game right now (a Slam-less number one, an injured player who was on a 14-match winning streak at the Majors), the French is really within Azarenka's reach.
* American players should never, EVER have any hesitation about playing on clay. Success can be found on it, be it in the U.S. or in Europe. Just look at what Sweeting pulled off.
* Andujar really started making his move last year with great Challenger results and a runner-up finish in Bucharest. Not only that, though: He just made the third round in Miami on hard courts, beating countryman Fernando Verdasco along the way. He could make life a little difficult for a top 20 player drawn to face him in the weeks ahead.
And a special bonus thought on another title-winner:
* Congrats to Caroline Wozniacki on capturing her third title of the year in Charleston! (Sorry for the "Slam-less number one" reference above!)
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.