Saturday, February 3, 2007

Mid-Winter Lull

Tennis lulls come two times a year for me. The first is following the season-ending championships, when the season is over and I know I have six plus weeks of waiting before I can check scores religiously, read over match summaries and catch up on the latest happenings of each tour. The second comes now, following the Australian Open when the tour obscurely scatters throughout the globe and no big tournaments are to be played for a month.

This one has hit me especially hard. Winter is dragging on (it's only the first week of February!?!)and there is no sight of spring coming soon (at least not in Seattle). I haven't had the motivation to blog, mostly because I have lacked the amenities I came to cherish during the Aussie: AO radio, live scoreboards and an occasionally-televised match.

Yet there are things to look forward to:
--Martina Hingis has a chance to redeem her two embarrassing losses in Tier I finals from last year in one foul swoop. After defeating defending champion Elena Dementieva (whom she lost to in last year's final in straights) in the semifinals she has the opportunity to get some revenge on Ana Ivanovic, who destroyed her in the Roger's Cup final in August. In order for Hingis to start building confidence toward a French Open run, she needs to string together some of these big wins (she's beat Stosur and Dementieva this week) to believe in her ability to win seven in a row, and that elusive post-comeback major.
--Gustavo Kuerten is at it again. The now-30-year-old made his return to the ATP after a year away from the game at the Movistar in Vina del Mar (don't ask, I don't know). Though he lost both round-robin matches, its great to have this grand slam-winning personality back on the tour. I especially love that on his ATP profile he lists his own clothing line as his apparel. Classic.
--The American men are certainly out to prove their critics wrong in 2007. After a decent showing in Melbourne (Blake to 4th Rd.; Fish Qtrs.; Roddick Semis.) this week in Delray Beach has been rather impressive. Vince Spadea got to the semifinals before losing to Xavier Malisse and James Blake has a chance to make his second final in three tournaments this year with a win over Benjamin Becker. Jesse Levine, a 19-year-old college student at Florida, charged all the way to the quarters before losing as a wildcard.

If there is anything that can warm up a cold winter better than a the fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate, it's some good and intriguing tennis during the usually lack-luster snowy season.

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