We are just one week in and already March Madness is living up to its name. Really, who would ever have thought Andy Roddick and Feliciano Lopez would battle for the title in Dubai, when the top players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and my man Gael Monfils were entered? Not me.
Roddick beat Lopez in final in three high quality sets, sending a very strong signal to the rest of the field that he’s back. Back from where is a good question, but as soon as the American shed the vest-wearing Jimmy Connors, his coach for the last 1.5 years, Roddick returned to his old style of pounding serves and crushing forehands to victory. Roddick stunned Nadal then Djokovic and fended off a game Lopez in the final for his biggest victory in a couple years.
Now he heads back home for U.S. masters in Indian Wells, where he’s never reached the final, and Miami. Roddick’s first match probably can’t come soon enough for the Austin native who’s on one hell of a roll at the moment, and someone no one wants to play right now.
While Roddick was busy tearing up the field and rebuilding his confidence in Dubai, what was Federer doing? Fixing his hair?? Getting his second serve ready for Pete Sampras??
The World No. 1 did make a startling revelation to the NY Times a few days back that he’s been battling mononucleosis since the end of 2007, but didn’t know it until just a few weeks ago.
I’m no medical expert and I’ve never had mono thankfully, but a few of my friends have had it and it took them 2-3 months to recover, with good days and bad days in between. And in some cases recovery can be even longer, just ask Mario Ancic who was out six months. (Hell, maybe Andy Roddick just got over mono.)
So, believe it or not, there you have the Swiss’s explanation for the recent slump. I’ll take Fed’s word for it, though I do wonder how fully recovered he really is, and if the virus will return. But what about the chicken he ate? And if Fed didn’t want to take away from Novak’s or Andy Murray’s wins as he said, why mention that you had mono now after the illness has passed? Why not just come out with it clean when you learned of the diagnosis?
Djokovic probably doesn’t care that much about the Fed mono either way. He’s still polishing his Australian Open trophy, practicing his ball bounce and getting ready for those hardball questions from Jay Leno, but Murray’s got to be boiling a little inside. The guy gets little credit for his win over a “tired” Fed a couple summers ago, and now just when he thinks he scores a legit victory, Fed comes out and says he had just gotten over mono. Great Scot, what a buzzkill. Murray should just pull out before their next match, it’s a no win anyway. He’s just snake-bitten.
Back to Fed. Bottom line is Fed’s play was deteriorating long before the mono/chicken. How else can you explain losses to last year to Canas, Volandri, Gonzalez and Nalbandian? And fact is Nadal should have taken him out in the Wimbledon final.
Fed did start 2007 in top form, then…Then he had a hit with Pete Sampras. Hmm…
Actually, maybe I can explain it. When I jokingly wrote a year ago that Sampras put a hex on Fed after their hit, maybe Pete really did do something. Maybe Pete gave Roger mono!
Let’s see, mono, also dubbed the “kissing disease”, is said to be highly contagious. Hmm…
Pete hits with Roger last year just before IW, and Roger, who was undefeated entering their practice session, slumps thereafter losing early in Indian Wells, Miami and then in Monte Carlo. Pete next hits with Roger who just came off a Masters Cup victory, and Roger becomes ill a few weeks later and he hasn’t won a title since.
Coincidence? Conspiracy? I’ll leave it there, but I think based on the timeline that until Roger gets to 15 slams he needs to avoid Pete like the plague, because he really might be the plague. And if you have to play Monday night, Roger, you might want to put on a HAZMAT suit instead of that Wimbledon blazer. Just a thought, why chance it?
But now that Fed’s allegedly healthy, with the young guys like Murray, Djokovic, etc., gaining ground and confidence by the day, he’s really going to need to focus more energy, and as much as his body allows on tennis. That means Fed, stop texting Tiger, stop attending Super Bowls and stop getting $800 hair cuts. It doesn’t appear your headed for the Andre dome, so your hair’s going to be there in 10 years, your game isn’t. Get it styled then.
About the only thing missing from the first week of March was a Williams sister matchup. Oh wait, we did get one. In case you missed it, and I’m sure many of you did, Serena and Venus had a little sisterly showdown in the semifinals of Bangalore of all places. It was their first meeting in two years and of course it went three sets, this one won by younger Serena in a third set tiebreak. Serena, who now leads Venus 8-7 in their head-to-head, closed the tournament today beating Patty Schnyder in the final for her first tournament win in nearly a year.
Sam Querrey completed the American weekend sweep nabbing his first career title in Las Vegas beating qualifier Kevin Anderson in the final. The 6-foot-7 Kevin Anderson was trying to follow the path of Kei Nishikori and Steven Darcis as unknowns to win on U.S. soil this season. Nice job Sam, that’s one more title this year than Federer and Nadal combined!
All in all, quite a start to March, especially for American hopes, can’t wait to see what develops ahead at Indian Wells and Miami. The men’s draw comes on Tuesday for IW.
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