Mens Tennis Forums banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,684 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Bob Larson's tennisnews.com
Men's Look Forward: Sydney, Auckland


If you ever needed proof that the men's tour needs to bring back quality points, look no further than this week's tournaments.

Sydney, on the men's side, isn't quite as impressive as the women's event (which in past years has had a Slam-like field), but with six Top Ten players (Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Roger Federer, Albert Costa, and Andy Roddick), it's about as strong as an event can be while still offering the dead minimum number of ATP points.

Though the draw is strangely top-heavy (could there be appearance fees involved?). There are the six Top Ten players. The only other Top 20 player is Paradorn Srichaphan. The #8 seed is Gaston Gaudio, who isn't quite Top 20. Still, it's a very fine field. Clearly, if you're warming up for the Australian Open, Sydney is the place to be.

The result is a draw with all sorts of interesting matches. Starting at the very top. One week from now, #1 seed Marat Safin has Australian Open finalist points to defend. He really wants to be in top form. But who does he face in the first round? None other than Olivier Rochus, the guy who beat him at Wimbledon. And that was on a fast court. If the tiny Rochus can handle Safin's serve on grass, think what could happen on slow Rebound Ace! That's not to say it will happen -- but what if Safin gets to thinking about it?

And if Safin survives that, he'll likely have to deal with another fast guy in Jarkko Nieminin. And Nieminen has better tools that Rochus.

The top quarter will also see a first round match between Tommy Robredo and #8 seed Andy Roddick. That too could be interesting. This surface will not help Roddick's serve much, and Robredo is much more used to long points. His backhand is better, too. These two young talents could put on quite a show.

Roger Federer, the top seed in the second quarter, has life relatively easy, opening against a qualifier. But his second round is likely to be against Nikolay Davydenko, who after just one week of 2003 has already won the first title of his career. And he didn't even have to expend that much energy winning it.

Thomas Enqvist and Wayne Ferreira both early last week. What sort of shape will these two veterans be in this week? We'll find out. The winner of that will take on either Juan Ignacio Chela or #5 Albert Costa -- meaning that we're guaranteed a match between a guy who likes his surfaces a bit faster than this and a guy who likes them a bit slower.

A similar battle is likely in the third quarter, where Gaston Gaudio opens against wildcard Todd Reid. The winner of that will face the winner of the contest between Rainer Schuettler -- for whom this is just about the ideal surfaces -- and Ivan Ljubicic. Ljubicic really would like a surface that's better for his serve, but as a Croat he knows clay, and he looked pretty good at the Australian Open last year, so he too is fairly happy on this stuff.

James Blake comes to Sydney having beaten Lleyton Hewitt at Hopman Cup. Think he feels good about his Rebound Ace chances? Unfortunately, he'll have to start against #3 seed Carlos Moya, who is a former Australian Open finalist and is at last playing like it again. Expect more than the usual number of women to be hanging around the stands for that contest, just because of the competitors. But they should be rewarded with a good match.

The winner will likely have to face Richard Krajicek in yet another faster/slower contest. That third quarter is just murder.

#7 seed Paradorn Srichaphan has shown both great skill and great stamina over the past half year. He may not need the stamina, but he will need the skill. He opens against Scott Draper. After that, it's either Xavier Malisse or Max Mirnyi. Mirnyi, of course, is a relentless netrusher; Malisse is the kind of guy who loves to hit passing shots. In that contest, the surface helps Malisse. But it's a close thing.

The very bottom of the draw may feature the most stylistically interesting match of the entire tournament as #2 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero faces off against magician Fabrice Santoro. These weeks are a big chance for Ferrero; he missed the Australian Open last year, so anything he can do is a bonus. But he hasn't had much Rebound Ace practice. Pretty tough to face Santoro when you aren't used to the court.... The winner will probably face Mikhail Youzhny, so he can't afford to slack off, either.

If you just glanced at the draw for Auckland, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a clay event. It just has that sort of look to it. It's habitually been much weaker than Sydney (rather odd, since it has the same prize money -- it's why bonus points would be so helpful. Winning Sydney is big. Winning Auckland is, well, winning Auckland). But this year, it's not just weaker (far, far weaker), it's dirtier. Or at least the players are: Dirt is home for them. #1 seed Jiri Novak -- the only Top Ten player here -- has had good results on all surfaces, but three of his four titles have been on clay. (The fourth was actually this very event, in 1996. Of course, this court is quite slow.) #2 seed David Nalbandian, the only other Top Fifteen player here, had his big result at Wimbledon last year, but he's most accustomed to clay and that's the only surface where he has a title. #3 Fernando Gonzalez has the shots for other surfaces -- but both his 2002 titles came on clay. #4 seed Gustavo Kuerten -- well, you know about him and clay. (Though he may not be much of a force here. He seems to have a Rebound Ace jinx. Or an South Pacific jinx. Or a something jinx.) #5 Jose Acasuso one career title, and yes, it's on clay. That makes Jan-Michael Gambill, the #6 seed, the first guy who doesn't prefer clay -- and the next seed, #7 Guillermo Coria, is also a clay-lover.

Unseeded players who like clay include Agustin Calleri, Felix Mantilla, David Ferrero, Alberto Martin, David Sanchez, Fernando Vicente, Stefan Koubek, and Mariano Zabaleta. Expect a lot of long matches in New Zealand. (Good thing this isn't the co-ed event.)

At least some of them should be pretty good, though. In the first quarter, #5 Acasuso will open against Mantilla -- veteran versus extreme youth. Mantilla knows the surface better, but Acasuso has better weapons.

The next quarter has three pretty good first round matches: #3 Gonzalez versus rising Felciano Lopez, Alberto Martin vs. Ferrer in a contest pitting young versus younger; and #6 Gambill against Michel Kratochvil -- the only first round match in the entire draw to feature two hardcourt players.

In the third quarter, Coria starts against Sanchez, and could face Vicente in the second round. Kuerten -- who has never been past the Australian Open second round -- has a good chance to at least equal that here, since he starts against a qualifier. In the second round, it's either a qualifier or Radek Stepanek.

#8 seed Davide Sanguinetti doesn't seem to have a preferred surface. He'll open against Raemon Sluiter, who likes things faster. The winner will probably face Stefan Koubek, who loves this court, loves this time of year -- right now, after winning Doha, he loves just about everything. The question is, how much energy will he have left?

At the bottom, #2 Nalbandian opens against countryman Mariano Zabaleta. Nalbandian hasn't had much Rebound Ace experience. Will it matter?

The Rankings. This week really doesn't matter much; the rankings coming out of Sydney and Auckland will be used to seed only one event, and that small (Milan). Both of this week's tournaments are at the very bottom of the scale (35 Race points). The week's defending champions are Roger Federer and Greg Rusedski; Rusedski of course won't be playing and will drop dramatically. Federer's situation is more complex. The players from #3 to #7 -- Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Federer, and Jiri Novak -- are all within about 500 points. And the gap from Safin to Federer is only half that. Federer of course can't gain. He is ahead of Novak in safe points, but it appears that it's close enough that Novak could move up -- if he can win Auckland and Federer does badly. As for Moya and Ferrero -- either can move up one spot, though no more. Safin can only go down, but it's quite likely that we'll see no moves at all. These are an optional event, after all.

Below that -- well, Srichaphan can't quite make the Top Ten this week, but he might next. And every point he earns here will help. Also, Gaudio has a real shot to hit the Top 20. It won't take much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,430 Posts
I noticed that too TH. LOL

Thanks for the article, Eggy. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,529 Posts
i love reading these articles. thanks. :)
 

·
psychotic banana
Joined
·
15,731 Posts
Thanks for the article.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,618 Posts
Thanks Eggy Mate! You really do your research. I've always thought that Sydney should be worth more points~ atleast 50pts to the winner. I mean last week in Adelaide there were no top 20 players but that also awarded 35pts like Sydney. It just doesn't make sense to me. In fact why don't they make Sydney a Masters Series- that way they're would be one in the Southern Hemisphere, boost the pts to 100 & give all the players a lead into the Aussie Open. I know they used to refer to the 'Super 9' which became the Masters Series, but what's wrong with 'Super 10'? Of course I might be biased in my opinions but definitely there should be more big tournaments in this region of the world. If not Sydney then atleast Asia should have a permanent Masters Series event- either Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong ~ maybe Paradorn's heroics will make it happen in the near future. Cheers from Down Under~~
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,771 Posts
James Blake comes to Sydney having beaten Lleyton Hewitt at Hopman Cup. Think he feels good about his Rebound Ace chances? Unfortunately, he'll have to start against #3 seed Carlos Moya, who is a former Australian Open finalist and is at last playing like it again. Expect more than the usual number of women to be hanging around the stands for that contest, just because of the competitors. But they should be rewarded with a good match.
damn, i'd give anything to be one of those women!!! :lick: :lick:

shut up Dots! ;) ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
No offence, "C'mon Aussie" but Eggy is only kindly providing us with the article. This Bob Larson guy is the one who writes the article.

I've just had a tough law exam and feel a little bit nit-picky.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28,276 Posts
#2 seed David Nalbandian, the only other Top Fifteen player here, had his big result at Wimbledon last year, but he's most accustomed to clay and that's the only surface where he has a title. #3 Fernando Gonzalez has the shots for other surfaces -- but both his 2002 titles came on clay.
How ironic these statements were written one after the other.

Did David not beat Gonzo in the finals of an indoor tournament jsut a couple months ago? LOL

Oh well, Bob tried.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top