It has been a while since I posted on tennis because I found myself blindly typing out the score sheet at times. Hopefully these posts will start from a fresh new viewpoint and I'll make it all short and sweet - just in time for this blogs' 2nd birthday.
This week some big names are already on the court preparing for the Australian Open. Out of the 3 tournaments this week one is already in Australia, the Brisbane International. The three headline names, Robin Soderling, Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco hopefully will make this tournament an interesting event. I don't really know who to predict to win. Verdasco didn't look that good towards the end of the last season but he normally manages to do quite well in the earlier stages of the year (he does seem to burn out towards the end). I've been hearing good things about reigning champion Andy Roddick's off season e.g. training well, improving etc etc. so I'll watch out for him. Robin Soderling is an obvious contender for the title, he looked on form throughout last season so we'll just have to wait and see whether it continues. Mardy Fish also had a decent 2010 with a breakthrough win against Andy Roddick, they aren't scheduled to meet until the final though. Radek Stepanek is also in the draw, last years finalist, but he took a nosedive in form last year.
The Aircel Chennai Open will feature world No.6 Tomas Berdych as well as two time reigning champion, Marin Cilic. Cilic was on super form here last year. Though his form did tail off last year Marin must be thinking about that top 10 spot he is so close to and a potential hat-trick. Also featured are Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy. I can never predict Gasquet so I won't even try whilst Chardy was doing well last year until two uncharacteristic losses to Mikhail Kukushkin, I wonder why that was. Then you also have Stanislas Wawrinka, last year's finalist, and Janko Tipsaveric to look out for.
Finally the two big guns, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are at the Qatar Exxonmobil Open. Defending champion Nikolay Davydenko is also in the draw. Jo Wilfred Tsonga is also back from injury. Besides those four the remaining four seeds could also be a potential threat namely Gulbis, Troicki, Garcia-Lopez and Kohlschreiber, but I still have my money on Nadal Vs. Federer, though Davydenko Vs. Tsonga would be pretty interesting!
On the women's side only Samantha Stosur is being the early bird, playing at the Brisbane International. Well of course Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova are big enough names to be headlining the ASB Classic but rankings wise they aren't. Hopefully Maria will be revived to battle again this year and reach the Top 10 again. Svetlana on the other hand had a disastrous 2010, how will 2011 be for her? Also, Kimiko Date Krumm will be playing here, 40 and still going strong. Anne Keothavong will be flying the British flag, avoiding the top players until deeper into the draw, whilst we also have an interesting first round match - Dinara Safina Vs. Yanina Wickmayer, how will that turn out? Dinara had a diabolical 2010, could she come back from it? Will be hard with Yanina in the first round.
Back to Brisbane, as I have said Stosur will be the top seed here followed by Peer, Petrova and Bartoli. Pavlyuchenkova and Pennetta will also make this tournament quite a tough and unpredictable one. With all those six names (and more) potential titleholders here. However I've already heard that seventh seed Alisa Kleybanova was defeated by Sally Peers. Then you have a slurry of threats including Dulgheru, Petkovic, Benesova, Kudryavtseva and; Cibulkova, Hantuchova, Chakvetadze and Kvitova all in the same section of the draw! This tournament is definitely looking to be the toughest to predict out of the bunch and to be perfectly honest I wouldn't be that shocked if any of the names above won the title - of course not Alisa Kleybanova though.