The only real intrigue going on this week in Moscow, other than the mayor’s bold claim that he will create a “snow-less winter”, will be which of the remaining ladies with a fighting chance of making it to Doha will prevail at this week’s Kremlin Cup.
Jelena Jankovic, Agnieska Radwanska, and Vera Zvonareva are all competing for the final spot to Doha. Jankovic is defending champion at the event so all the pressure will be on her to not only defend but somehow outlast the other two ladies.
The men are also playing in Moscow this week but the stakes are not as high. Nikolay Davydenko is playing (of course) and will meet Marat Safin in the first round. Good luck with that Kolya.
And let’s not forget the return of Kim Clijsters who will show up in Luxembourg for her first post U.S. Open win event. She could face her fellow finalist Caroline Wozniacki who is also playing the event.
Who do you think will be that last to qualify for Doha?
Marat Safin’s love affair with Asia continues. Even though he lost his second round match in Shanghai to Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, he was the one asked to hit the autographed tennis balls into the stands. Of course there was another mini-ceremony at the end with video of Safin back in his “movie idol” days with the appropriate “Wild Thing” as the soundtrack. Safin did take time to thank all of the fans in both Beijing and Shanghai for their support.
Meanwhile, injuries and the debate over them continues to mar the event. Juan Martin Del Potro and Tommy Haas both retired in their matches. Rafael Nadal, who joined Andy Roddick in complaining about the tour’s grueling schedule, looked ok in his win over James Blake.
Lleyton Hewitt, who knows a thing or two about injuries, lost a tough three setter to Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Monfils who wavered between playing fifteen feet behind the baseline to then coming up with vicious forehand winners finally decided on an attacking style of play that saw him the last six games of the third set.
Other winners included Robin Soderling, Tommy Robredo, Gilles Simon and Novak Djovokic. Ivan Ljubicic scored the biggest upset of the day taking out Fernando Verdasco.
Tomorrow’s key match ups will be Soderling/Tsonga and Gonzalez/Davydenko as all are trying to make it to London.
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A lot of players on Day 3 will be up against their own countryman/woman which may add an extra drop of drama. Or not. Gael Monfils faces Jeremy Chardy which could be close depending on Monfils’s health. Vera Zvonareva will be up against fellow Russian and former top ten player Anna Chakvetadze. Juan Martin Del Potro goes against fellow Argentine Juan Monaco and the list goes on.
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands will get to test out Venus Williams’s knee in the second round. Again with Venus, early rounds in Slams other than Wimbledon have been her undoing lately.
Rafael Nadal will face his friend Richard Gasquet in the first round later this afternoon. I’m surprised this wasn’t the night match along with Clijsters vs. Bartoli (see below). The Serena/Federer card should be a big yawn. Anyway, I’m sure Nadal/Gasquet will have it’s moments but I would be surprised if Nadal doesn’t pull this off in three.
Marat Safin opens his farewell tour against Jurgen Melzer. I actually like Safin in this unless he self-destructs like his little sister almost did yesterday.
Kim Clijsters takes on Marion Bartoli and I like Clijsters in this. Again if she gets past Bartoli then you have to like her against Venus in the fourth round.
And finally Robby Ginepri, who won in Indianapolis, opens up against Andrei Pavel, a 35 year old journeyman from Romania ranked 728.
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