Did anyone really think that the talented French duo of Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could make it through the indoor and U.S. outdoor hard court season without getting injured? Of course not. They are French, and they do what French players seemingly love to do, and that is get injured. Too bad for tennis, as their injuries come on the eve of what was a real intriguing Davis Cup tie between the U.S. and France.
Tsonga came up lame with a bad knee, and Gasquet followed with blisters. So much for France’s chances. Actually I shouldn’t say that with such confidence, especially given my track record of late. Tsonga was replaced in singles by Paul-Henri Mathieu, while Michael Llodra fills in for Richard Gasquet, who remains on the team and a Sunday possibility. Mathieu is a great player, I think, and Llodra in a fast, indoor environment should be able to serve his way to a few tiebreakers, especially against Roddick. But the loss of Gasquet and Tsonga really do take much of the shine off this tie.
And before you jump on me for being too hard on the French, you are probably right, I am being too hard on them. Fabrice Santoro has been nothing short of an iron man in tennis. Clement and Grosjean have enjoyed lengthy careers and even Llodra and Mathieu have found success.
But it does seem like the French players with the most talent, the most upside, get bitten by the injury bug. Amelie Mauresmo is founder and Injury Bug Club president, and now the younger bunch of Gasquet, Tsonga and my man Gael Monfils are already lifetime members. And that’s too bad.
Onto the Davis Cup quarterfinals which have already started. We have Spain visiting Germany, Sweden at Argentina and Czech Republic at Russia, in addition to U.S. v. France. I’ll stick with my original picks and go with Spain, Argentina, Russia and U.S. in what looks to be a rather uneventful quarterfinal tie weekend, though Russia v. Czech Republic has some promise early on.
Already today, with recent Miami winner and current “flavor of the month” Nikolay Davydenko watching from the sidelines, Marat Safin beat Baby Marat, Tomas Berdych, coming back from two-sets down, but Igor Andreev couldn’t follow suit getting blown out on the clay at home to Radek Stepanek. If the Czechs can get the doubles tomorrow, watch out.
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