Paris In the Spring

May 26, 2011

Today in New York we got our first real spring day. I don’t mean a hint of sunshine in the air and no coat weather – I mean full on, summer-is-around-the corner HEAT. And it was lovely.

So while I contemplated the concept of relegating boots to the underbed storage compartment (yeah, I’m fancy like that) I was able to more adequately comprehend the notion that somewhere on the other side of the world, under a blazing sun in a pretty city we like to call Paree, there’s a host of ladies and gents lined up ready to compete for one of the toughest championships in the world (we tennis fans like to call it that. Other sportsmen can step aside, ahoy). There are stories aplenty as we embark on this two week adventure in Paris in the spring, and being that this year I’m not racing around town looking for wifi and streams and friendly bars that will play said streams for me*, I can actually pay a little more attention to the huge rush of mediated content that descends on us starved tennis fans and choose a few pieces for anyone who wants to read it. (Probably being, none).

If you’ve been exploring the sunshine and meadows outside of our very comfortable-thank-you-very-much tennis-fan cave, you might want to catch up on some of the big stories we’re contemplating this week. Such as:

– Novak Djokovic, man of the moment. No, really. The cyborg, crafted by a bunch of mad scientists attempting to see how long it’d take before we noticed that a man was actually a robot, was let out of his lab to wreak havoc over the last six months, winning every match from his December heroic patriotic showdown in Belgrade’s Davis Cup Final to the Australian Open to sweeping the American hard court masters in Miami and Indian Wells, and absolutely demolishing Rafa Nadal – the Rafa Nadal – on clay courts in Europe. That’s a lot of matches – 40, to be precise. So now the streak is on the line, the number one ranking isn’t far out of reach, and everyone who’s spent the last few years facepalming at Nole’s confidence breakdowns and asthmatic breakdowns while falling in love with his clownish, adorable personality is jumping for joy as he delights us on court, Sunday after Sunday.

– Rafael Nadal: Aside from a very sad day in June 2009 that Rafa’s fans try not to remember too often, the man’s been indestructible on the red dirt he likes to call his own, and in the House he has built, also known as Phillipe Chatrier Stadium in Paris. Last year he swept the clay season – this year, he snagged titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona while giving up the Rome and Madrid Masters titles to the man – or machine – who was once the object of a fairly adorable bromance. Rafa’s holding on to the number one ranking, he’s in contention for a number six Roland Garros title (up there with Bjorn Borg), and he’s not quite sure if he can handle taking the respectful rivalry he’s had with Fed all this time to the bromancey, football-watching, doubles-playing love he’s got with Nole in the trivalry.

– Roger Federer: Yeah, remember him? The news outlets are wondering the same thing. Watch those spaces for lots of “is-he-or-isn’t-he” on his way down prewritten pieces, especially when the inevitable “early” round loss happens. But honestly, with Nole running loose and Rafa charging like a bull, is anyone even paying attention?

Then there are the ladies:

– Caroline Wozniacki, The Williams Sisters, and the State of the WTA – Slamless number one is a phrase we’ve uttered before (Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, and a slew of others before they won their maiden titles) but never for as long as twenty-year-old Caro’s been sparking that conversation. The Williams sisters are out, and everyone is bored of ladies tennis. And I’ve just summarized approximately 95% of the tennis-related articles published on mainstream media these days. Wah.

– The Women’s Draw is Wide Open: Said at the start of every tournament but never truer than here. We’ve got the up-and-comers like Julia Goerges and Victoria Azarenka coming off great clay seasons; we’ve got last year’s champ-and-runner-up Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone apparently able to contest it; we’ve got Mommy Kim flexing her Slam-Only muscles; and the “indie-hits” known only to tennis fans who wouldn’t surprise if they made a run here – Andrea Petkovic, Petra Kvitova, Peng Shuai. Last year this time, Vera Zvonareva and Francesca Schiavone were ranked in the 20s and teens. Now look at them. It’s amazing what a good run in a Slam can do, hey?

Other boring stories:

– The Death of American Tennis: Wah, wah, wah. We heard you the first time. You know what, having two men ranked 10 and 11 in the world, or is it 11 and 12 this week isn’t so bad, even if Andy Roddick is the 2nd not the first. And having a bunch of guys trail the skirts of the top 100 isn’t so bad either. Check out Australia and get back to me if you want to talk about a Grand Slam hosting nation being too gracious and granting their trophy to other nations. And, oh yeah, the British and French are moaning too. Woo.

So far the stories are a’creepin’. The British ladies have made history, there are no Aussies left, and despite the whingeing the Americans aren’t doing too badly. Caro is dismantling her opponents and Sam, lovely Sam, has cruised through her first two matches and pleaseohpleaseohplease will stay calm and collected as the week goes on.

So halfway through week one, the stories are still abuzz and now ones are being created every day. So let’s jump into the springtime and waltz down the dark green leafy streets and inhale the red dust and get DIRTY ON CLAY!

* Shoutout to the wonderful staff at The Gov in Jerusalem, Israel for looking after me so well last year, plying me with Stella and keeping me in streams; and the fabulous barstaff slash receptionists at Peace and Love Hostel in Paris for showing me the way to RG.

Let’s Talk About: Frederrrico.

April 15, 2011

I think about Frederico Gil sometimes. Not because I have too much of a clue who he is, because I don’t (though that should change by the end of this piece). I mean, it might be because he’s Portuguese, and I love humans from that side of town, but no really, it’s because I like to extend out people’s names as far as possible to create some semblance of an interesting nickname. I have a friend called Freddie, he is called Frederico, and as any other deranged tennis fan can tell you, it’s not uncommon for a first name associated with a tennis player to automatically conjure up said tennis player in one’s brain at the time. Try it. Andy! Okay, that was too easy. Let me try a different one. Marat! Okay, I was tricking you (actually not, because for some reason it still conjures up the evil old French revolutionary, but that’s for another day when I finally get to write a weird history blog). Um, okay, let’s try… Frederico! See? I bet it worked for you too.

(PS. One name that tends to defy but also conform to this convention is Guillermo. Only because Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is so scarily similar to Guillermo Garcia-Gomez, that I’m not sure if I’m doing a tennis or a weeds reference. Try it.)

So let’s talk about Frederico Gil. We’re gathered to talk about him today, ladies and gents, because he’s the sole Portuguese player, and we love Portuguese people nearly as much – in fact maybe just as much – as we love Spanish people, because they’re so goddamn nice. And since we never had a chance to talk about him before, I’m taking advantage of today’s achievements to talk about this dude.

Frederico Gil, the highest-ranked Portuguese player ever, beat Gael Monfils today in Monte Carlo to make it to his first ever ATP Masters 1000 Quarter Final. He’ll play Muzz next tomorrow, which, in other breaking news today, is an exciting thing because it means Andy Murray is in a Masters Quarter Final. Who woulda thunk it.

I know he’s not pretty, but he sure has got some guns.

It also means we could be seeing more of this gentleman this week, which is great form from the 26-year-old, who has finalist points to defend in his home tournament of Estoril coming up shortly. Last year in his run to the final in Portugal, he became the first player of his country to reach an ATP final, so let’s hope he can ride on the confidence of what this week’s given him – and what may be yet to come – and go one better in 2011.

In an excellent Deuce profile from 2009, Gil discussed his goals for the future, his changes to his game, his family, and the meaning of his sport in a country like Portugal, where football rules (hi, Cristiano) and tennis is more of an afterthought.

Since we’re playing a getting to know you game here, I thought I’d snip out some extracts of the article so we can understand a little more about the dramas of playing tennis in a country where it isn’t part of a particularly strong tradition… Especially one such as Portugal, that has an insanely strong tradition of another wee little sport that a few people like to play in their backyards – football slash soccer (no I will not capitulate!)

The article quotes Manuel Perez, an RTP television commentator and a writer for the Portuguese sports newspaper O Jogo:

“For me Frederico’s rise up the rankings has been a great surprise. If you asked me two or three years ago if he could reach the Top 100, I would have said ‘no’. But now I must say everyone in Portugal is surprised by his current ranking.

“I have never seen a Portuguese player so mentally strong in 23 years of following the sport,” admitted Perez. “His greatest strength is his mentality. He isn’t a talent like Nuno Marques, who everybody said could be a Top 30 player but [who] made mistakes during his career. Frederico knows how hard the tour is. He knows how to practise and how to manage the press intruding in his personal life.”

“My parents had no experience of playing tennis before I was born, but my father started when he was 31,” explained Gil. “In his youth he had played football for Benfica juniors as he had been inspired by my grandfather, Rui Gil, who played professionally for Benfica. I started playing tennis at the age of five, when my parents built a court in the courtyard garden of our home. Another grandfather had built four houses together and had given one house to my mother and another to my uncle.”

I highly recommend reading the entire piece, as it gives an insight into something most tennis articles fail to cover: The plight of the journeyman tennis player, struggling between winning challengers for a place in the top 50 and then falling back out as mandatory tournaments have him losing again in the first round. It also highlights the difficulty of playing tennis in a country with little history: Every small victory means a huge amount for the populace (yes, I said populace, like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess) but also a huge weight of expectation for their next move.

So, I dunno what’s happening in Portugal right now, but I kinda love Portuguese people, so I’m gonna strap into my supersonic travel machine and hang with them for the next couple days. That way, instead of people hanging their heads “oh no Muzz lost again” tomorrow, we can be happy for someone else. Someone called Frederico, to be precise. Or, Muzz can win, and we’ll all live happily ever after.

A Word from @Noleksa: Nole’s Numbers – or Top 9 Reasons Why Novak Djokovic is Particularly Amazing

April 8, 2011

One person who’s been making a fair few headlines lately is the incredible Novak Djokovic. A long-time favourite on this blog, we’ve been more than delighted to see the awesomeness streak that Nole’s been leaving across Australia, the Middle East, and the USA – in fact, Dubai excepting, pretty much any continent where I’ve been over the last few months. Huh, how’s that.

But there’s one continent that matters more than the rest, and that’s Nole’s home of Belgrade, Serbia. Luckily there’s one lady who knows better than the rest of us just how fabulous this man has been – because she’s our resident Serbian on Twitter, and lover of all things Nole. Even my Davis Cup envy can’t get in the way of jumping into a Nole Love Bubble with this girl during his matches.

To wax lyrical from her fountain of knowledge, I present to you… the lovely and fabulous NOLEKSA!

9. Nole finished ATP World No. 3 for the four straight years and he achieved it in the era of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (2007-2010).

8. Novak has won 7 ATP Masters Titles which makes him the 6th player on All-Time list of Masters Champions behind Rafael Nadal (18), Roger Federer (17), Andre Agassi (17), Pete Sampras (11), andThomas Muster (8).

7. Only four active players have reached semi-finals of all Grand Slams: Roger Federer, David Nalbandian,Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. And the feat was achieved in that chronological order.

6. Also, in 2008 at 20 years of age by reaching Australian Open semi-finals, before winning his first Grand Slam Trophy, Nole has become the youngest player in Grand Slam Open Era history to reach the semi-finals of all four Grand Slam events, separately and consecutively.

5. Nole is the fourth player since 1990 to win the three biggest titles (Australian Open, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells, and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami) in the first three months of theseason (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras).

4. Nole is the first player since Roger Federer in 2006 to win both Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.

3. Nole has won 24 straight matches since the start of 2011, which is the third longest streak to start theyear behind Ivan Lendl (started 25-0 in 1986) and John McEnroe (started 39-0 in 1984).

Bearing in mind that during the aforementioned streak Nole has achieved 5:0 score vs. the Rafael Nadal and the Roger Federer we can arguably call it “the mother of all hot streaks”.

It takes greatness to inspire greatness.

2. Nole is 23 and Rafa is 24 and yet they have played each other 25 times already.
Rafa leads their H2H 16:9 but Nole is the only player to score 9 wins against Rafael Nadal.
Out of these 25 matches Rafa and Nole played thus far seven (7) were Finals matches, eleven (11)were Semifinals, three (3) Quarterfinals, three (3) were Round Robin matches at the ATP Year End Championships (World Tour Finals), and one (1) was Round Robin match in Davis Cup World Group tie.

1. Nole is the most loved athlete in Serbia, a very sport-centric country, and is a proud double winner of the award ‘The Best Sportsperson of Serbia’ and award for ‘The Best Sportsman by Olympic Committee of Serbia’.


Now I’ll say my bit… Here are some of my own reasons we love this man:

He’s hilarious when he talks, entertains anyone and everyone, looks fabulous with his shirt off and, oh yeah, he plays a mean game of tennis.

Also, along with a lovely little elf called Juan Martin Del Potro, he is the only man aside from The Big Two of Nadal and Federer to win a Grand Slam within the last six years.

I rest my case.

You’re Funny.

April 7, 2011

His award-winning blogs might no longer be featured on the ATP site, and his tweets may have begun resembling “One Man’s War Against the Establishment”, but Dmitry Tursunov can still look lovely and be funny when rifling through a tennis bag on some lush-looking green grass.

The folks from Wilson have posted a Bag Check which frankly I’m beyond curious when it was filmed. Doesn’t seem to be all that recent to me. It’s supposed to be uncut. If I was a journalist, I’d find out when the original was posted. But as a blogger, I’m happy to just sit back and watch. *lalala*. Oh look, isn’t he pretty?

“That’s all my prizemoney for the year.” Actually, I take that back. How well do challengers pay these days?

See you soon, Dima. I’m still watching you sweat it out in first-round five setters on the back courts, so, you know, it’d be nice doing the same in a third-rounder.

As for the pacifiers? Whatever works, baby.

Rant Warning: Is this a global tennis site, or what?

April 6, 2011

I’m first to admit that despite this blog being about tennis, it leans heavily to the side of those competitors who prefer to wear gorgeously ugly green-and-gold trackies when it’s Fed Cup, Davis Cup and Olympics time. Being that my love of tennis was first cultivated on the holy blue (then green) courts of Melbourne Park, I’m an Aussie tennis fan, first and foremost. Sure, I find it hard to love and embrace some of those purveyors of my beloved sport on home soil (Lleyton, meet Bernard. Bernard, Lleyton) but the adorable ones more than make up for it (Hey Sam! ‘Sup, Jarka? G’day, Patty Rafter) and anyway, blood is thicker than water. I’ll yell my guts out for Lleyton til the fifth set in the freezing cold at 2am if need be (that was so unfair, Nalby) and alienate myself from the rest of the Flushing Meadows crowd (I’m looking at you, Paul Henri Mathieu). So while I understand the importance of patriotism and whatnot, I’m also a lowly blogger and acknowledge the fact that it’s okay if I discuss my country’s players, because, after all, that’s what most of you are after. Australian Open fans want to know how Aussie players are doing – so I make sure to let them know, and bask in a bit of glory once in a while.

Now, this is not what the wonderful folk at ATP World Tour dot com believe, as evidenced by the latest spate of headlines bemoaning the lack of Americans in the top echelons of our sport. (If they can use cliches, so can I). Sure, Tennis Australia are more than welcome to focus on Australian tennis results, and The Age is all over when Sammy makes it to the next round with a bit of Rafa and Fed sprinkled in. That’s what they do. The Australian Open site is always highlighting photos and video of Aussie players – because that’s what people are visiting their site for.

ATP, on the other hand, last time I checked, was an international brand with an international appeal. Allow my Twitterfeed to back me up, which is filled with only a percentage of American fans and bloggers, with the rest coming from diverse nations such as Australia (oh yeah) and New Zealand, the UK, Europe, Asia – pretty much everywhere that tennis is played. Sure, I have a higher percentage of English speaking fans than the lovely French and Argentinean fans who occasionally pop up, but that’s called language commonalities. It most certainly does not affect which players we support… as evidenced by the high number of American fans who are quite happy to support Rafa over Roddick, or Aussies going for Feli over Tomic. We’re tennis fans, first and foremost, though obviously nationality plays a part, as mentioned above.

Which brings me to where we get our tennis news from, and the importance of journalists who are being fancypants high-profile oracles of the truth. If you’re writing for the New York Times, talk to me about American tennis, and I’ll pretend to be the dude in Westchester reading the news over coffee who likes to get out and have a hit on the weekend. Write for The Age, and I know you’re targeting a Mum who likes to take her kids to Melbourne Park on sunny summer days and wants to keep up with “Our Sam” and “Our Case” along with the big guys. If you’re a British media correspondent – oh, I won’t even start. Keep your thesaurus handy and a cricket bat, and you’ve got bashing Andy Murray down to an art. Be a blogger like me, and hell, write about whoever you feel like that day – the nicest proponent of a well-shaped torso, perhaps, or the lady who shares a nationality with you. Or just post a video of the girl with the cutest smile or the guy with the funniest accent, and you’ll be apples, mate.

Write for ATP World Tour dot com, dearies? Talk Muzz, talk Rafa, talk Nole, talk Fed. Ruminate over Muzza’s headcaseyness and slamlessness; ask the umpteenth question over Fed’s decline; and analyse Rafa’s muscle twinges just like we expect you to. Talk about Nole all you want – the man deserves it, and rightfully so. You can even debate whether Caro deserves to be number one, reference Kim’s role as – whaddya know – a wife and mother, and mourn the state of women’s tennis during the long-term absence of the Williams sisters. They’re overdone journalistic topics, true, but it’s okay for you to talk about them – because that’s what you’re supposed to talk about.

You can mention Mardy Fish going to number 11, you can talk about the lack of American top 10s, you can gasp with horror at Roddick’s “plunge” to number 14 – but don’t try to tell me it’s headline news in a way that displaces any other national sporting phenomenon.

In case it hasn’t come across, I happen to love the ATP site. It’s full of awesome news, videos, tidbits, player profiles, and a great design and layout. I check it religiously and love the iPhone apps. It’s the email news that’s gotten me down lately, with news of Mardy Fish’s rankings rise deemed more important than other, larger jumps last week; and news articles headlining the dismal nature of American sport making links and front page above and beyond all else. If this site is an international tennis site, built for international tennis fans, the Americano bias has got to go.

Or, you know, start a blog. Cos that’s what I’ve done.

Watch out, FIFA Scouts

March 22, 2011

When you watch as many post-match pressers and read as many tennis profiles as I do, it’s easy to start assuming that tennis is kinda the uncool little-brother sport to it’s cool-big-brother sport of football slash soccer. Many players admit to wanting to play football when they were younger, some dropped out in order to make room for tennis, and there are still a few who readily acknowledge they would’ve preferred to be better at their bigger, glitzier, shall we say more-universally-renowned big-bro sport. As a hardcore tennis fan, this is when it’s apt to grin smugly that “we” got that dude who looks rather dashing with an unclad torso in “our” camp, even though he clearly wants to be bromancing it up on a muddy field with twelve of his equally dashing European-or-South-American-but-either-way-from-a-hot-looking-country mates.

Luckily, some tournaments let our boys release that inner energy, and that’s why last week at Indian Wells the grassy turf killed about seventeen birds with one stone, giving the boys a chance to get kickity and the girls a chance to watch. (Credit to C Note for doing an amazing job stalking – I mean, blogging – and keeping us posted with the soccerhotness.

Now we’ve moved on beyond a few minutes of boys kicking around a tennis ball at the end of practice, Melbourne-style, or some serious grassy matches, a la Indian Wells. In Florida, the childhood fantasies get indulged and your favourite specimens of men-with-unclad-upper-torsos will be showing off their goods – for a good cause.

I know I’ve made this sound trivial, but it’s not, so let me go on: This is really all about Japan, and the ATP guys have gotten together to raise money for the victims of the disastrous earthquakes and tsunami of the last week. This is not the first time this sporting organisation has gotten together to raise funds for relief to those hit by natural disasters (see: Haiti; Chile; Queensland) and it’s a very special thing to see. This week in Coconut Grove, Florida, an ATP all-star team of tennis players will be bringing their soccer skillz to the stadium so you can all throw your cash at them and make sure it goes to help the people of Japan. Who need it. Really bad.

According to Nole, who, let’s face it, is teacher’s pet of the ATP at the moment:

“I am very concerned for the people of Japan and think it is only right that we do whatever we can to help those in need,” Djokovic said.

“I would love to see all of Miami support both events by showing up Wednesday, March 23rd at the Ransom Everglades High School soccer field at 7:00 pm to cheer on your favorite team and attending the dinner afterward.”

More facts:

The match against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers will take place at Ransom Everglades High School (3575 Main Highway), a couple miles south of the tournament in Coconut Grove at 7:00 pm. A dinner and auction will follow the soccer match at an undisclosed Miami location. Info at

Confirmed ATP Players
Novak Djokovic (Team Captain, obvs)
Kei Nishikori (Japanese rep, vital)
Rafael Nadal (Little boy’s dream, couldn’t be left out)
Andy Murray (Nole doesn’t leave out his besties)
Fernando Verdasco (Too cool for the tennis court. Also, looks good shirtless)
Feliciano Lopez (See above).

Also included are other fine graduates of the European summer outdoor training scheme and unclad torso specimens:

Richard Gasquet; Viktor Troicki; Marcos Baghdatis; David Ferrer; Jurgen Melzer

Kick away, lovely gentlemen!

On Top Of The World

March 22, 2011

Yesterday, Novak Djokovic proved he’s on top of the world – and, without a doubt to most – the best tennis player in the world right now. He did what we love to see, taking out Federer and Nadal in the same tournament, and extended his winning streak to 18-0 in the season – that’s 20 if you add in some fun times on a packed arena in his home town, Belgrade last year. He’ll get on the wikipedia page for tennis match streaks when he hits 26 – so, Miami, anyone?

Today he showed his domination by going – where else? – but the top of the world. Rather, the top of some pretty meadows and hills, but dammit, it took guts. And only with the confidence you’d have being Novak Djokovic right now would you actually attempt such a thing.

Though, looking at the cables attached, I’m thinking it’d be a similar experience to hangliding or paragliding. Which, as someone who has skydived one awesome time, doesn’t seem to be *that* big a deal. Yup, that’s me asserting my street cred for you, right now.

This is why my sport is so much better than yours. In case I haven’t made that point about nineteen million times over the last year and a bit of blogging.

Oh tennis.

Matte or Dewy?

March 18, 2011

This video is wonderful for many reasons, including the view of Indian Wells, a tournament that is growing on me to the extent I’m considering planning a nice little tennis holiday next year this time. It’s also got a Hi from Kei, and if you look ruhlly ruhlly closely at 3.08, a pretty lady in a ponytail who may or may not be Ana Ivanovic warming up.

How much would you give to be the makeup artist so artfully patting gel in Delpo’s spikey ‘do…. Or spongeing Tomas with what we can only assume would be foundation of the dewy type. I’d recommend a liquid-to-powder formula, personally.

Doubles Heaven

March 14, 2011

Rafa’s given us the lowdown on why Indian Wells is such a doubles treat, aka Olympic Practice Ground:

Q. What do you think about the fact that you’ve won this tournament in doubles and the Bryans have not?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am better than them. (Laughter.)
That’s not the case, no? So the thing is probably I have the best partner of the world, yeah. I have a fantastic partner. Marc, he has amazing talent, and when we play together, we have a lot of fun.
You know, I would love to play more tournaments doubles, but for me is impossible for the calendar and everything. Is too much.
But when I have the chance, I play. I played this year in Doha. I normally do in this tournament because is a long tournament and I have a few days in a row that there is a lot of – with the super-tiebreak helps a little bit to the players, but can have more chances to keep helping the players to play more and more doubles.
Because I think if the best players of the world play doubles, is a very good fun for the crowd, and for us, too, because we play a little bit more relaxed. At the same time, we practice, you know. If we have more facilities, is easier to practice playing doubles and is better practice playing doubles than practice only on the practice courts.

The Thunder from Down Under

March 10, 2011

Qualies at Indian Wells finished up this evening and what do you know – we have some very familiar names on the list.

I mean, obviously Flavio Cipolla had to qualify – when does he not? The kid is like a qualify-and-lose-in-the-first-round machine.  The Americans have gone all out and enriched their home-town arsenal, with Donald Young, Ryan Sweeting, Alex Bogomolov Jr, Mike Russel and Tim Smyczek all ready and able to lose in the first round while spectators clutch their hot dogs and cans of Bud (blatant straight-up stereotyping, admission).

But wait, who else is coming through from qualifying hell, girding their loins and shaking off the dust, striding across the grassy knolls of Indian Wells with big muscles rippling, ready to take on the world with their Aussie brawn?

Look who’s playing Indian Wells main draw, biatches?

Marinko “Australian Number Two” Matosevic

Chris “Gooch” Guccione – Let us hope, finally, injury-free

Matthew Ebden, also known as one of Australia’s highest ranked players, higher than Tomic and anyone else whose song you want to sing.

Oh yes, speaking of Bernie? He’ll be there too. Along with Lleyton. Fun times ahead.

A few more Aussies played qualies and missed out, including Sam Groth and Greg Jones. Which makes me think someone’s been paying attention to Lleyton’s grumblings during the summer, where he basically asserted that young Aussie players aren’t doing enough to make it on the ATP Tour. The piece from The Australian describes the difference it can make to take a risk by qualifying for a main event rather than staying in a challenger, picking up guaranteed points. Looks like they’re finally doing something about it, and of this I am proud.

For the record, just so I’m not accused of forgetting my Commonwealth kinsmen, Rik de Voest of South Africa along with this past weekend’s Indian Davis Cup battlers Somdev Devvarmen and Rohan Bopanna are also through. Which is also perfectly lovely.

Now, get ’em, Aussies.

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