Is there a better Garbage Man in tennis than Novak Djokovic? Probably not. When the top guys withdraw, leave it to Djokovic to clean up the mess and take the title, and the Serb did just that again this weekend in Dubai where he beat Gilles Simon and then yesterday David Ferrer en route to victory.
With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal injured, Andy Roddick making a political stand (a right one in my book) and Andy Murray withdrawing before his quarterfinal with a virus rumored to be mono, that left Djokovic as the man to beat in the desert, and full credit to him for taking care of business.
Now if you think I’m taking an underhanded shot Novak you’d probably be right. All though I think it’s a minor one. The guy’s a Top 5 player, there’s no doubt, but I still question his ability right now in this environment to legitimately contend for No. 1. We’ll see.
As for the Dubai controversy, after the WTA’s 300K slap-on-the-wrist I’ll be interested to see what comes of the event next year. My guess is absolutely nothing, and because of money it will be status quo. And that’s too bad. But tennis is money-starved and Dubai as we know has the money, so it’s going to be tough to kick that piggy bank to the curb. If anything does come out of this mess is I hope that in the future the respective tours will give a closer look to whom they award tournaments to. It’s often worthwhile to check under the hood before signing on that dotted line.
Dubai wasn’t the only place where things were happening – is there a less interesting month on the tennis calendar than February? In Acapulco my man Gael Monfils, playing his first week as Top 10er, was upended last night in the final by Nicolas Almagro who successfully defended his 2008 title there.
Monfils is really coming on nicely this year. He’s been in one final (Acapulco), the semifinals at Doha and Rotterdam and the fourth round at the Australian Open, where he meekly retired. Hopefully he can stay injury free and keep up the progress and improve his dismal record in finals – after winning his first one in Sopot in 2005, Gael’s lost six straight finals. That’s pretty troubling. No, very troubling!
Later today we also have the Delray Beach final between Mardy Fish and Evgeny Koralev. Fish is the clear favorite, but like Monfils he too has trouble closing that door on titles.
Next weekend is Davis Cup, and I’ll have a preview of sorts ahead of the first round ties, and tomorrow – it think it’s tomorrow – there’s some HBO Serena/Venus vs. Ivanovic/Jankovic much-ado-about-nothing exo happening at Madison Square Garden. Honestly, I think I’d rather see the Knicks play.
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