After what has seemed like forever to true tennis junkies (in reality just a few weeks), the 2010 ATP season is set to begin. With the Australian Open just around the corner, all players have spent the off season training to win the first slam of the season.
In Abu Dhabi, we have the 2nd annual Capitala World Tennis exhibition where six players will duke it out for a $250,000 winner-take-all first prize, plus a surely hefty appearance fee. The exo has already faced a withdrawal from Jo-Willy Tsonga, but Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Davis Cup hero David Ferrer, Rafa Killa Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko and Stanislas Wawrinka will all be playing in the three round event.
Like all exos, one must take the results with a grain of salt, but it will be good to see some of the big guns playing so early in the season and to measure how they’re playing. It remains to be seen if Soderling can continue his 2009 momentum, if Ferrer’s Davis Cup triumph will get his career back on track like Verdasco last year, and if Davydenko can back up his Masters Cup win and parlay it into his first slam later next month.
Abu Dhabi runs from tomorrow (Thursday) until Saturday. on Friday, Federer will play the Soderling/Wawrinka winner, Nadal meets the Ferrer/Davydenko winner. But the real season starts Sunday in Brisbane, Australia with a quality field. Andy Roddick, Radek Stepanek, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych, Sam Querrey, the talented Frenchie Jeremy Chardy, and the headcase Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci will all be playing. Marcos Baghdatis, James Blake, and the finally free Richard Gasquet will all be attempting comebacks at the event, not to mention Taylor Dent who in 2009 got his ranking up from nothing to #77! Roddick, who tweeted he arrived in Brisbane without his bags, will surely be the betting favorite, but off his knee injury last October, it remains to be seen how well he’ll play and if he’ll ever see his clothes again. It’s a pretty wide open event, actually.
Fed, Rafa, and Davydenko will all go from Abu Dhabi to Doha for their first ATP event of the season and will be joined by Jo Tsonga, the resurgent Mikhail Youzhny, the talented Serb Viktor Troicki, and the massively serving Ivo Karlovic. Rich boy Ernests Gulbis as well as the eternally disappointing Simone Bolelli will also be competing. The final four should be Fed, Nadal, Tsonga, and Davydenko, which is where the tournament will really pick up steam. Word is that Younes El Aynaoui will also receive a wildcard.
Lastly, in Chennai, Robin Soderling is the top seed while Croatia’s future Marin Cilic is the 2nd favorite. Wawrinka, the interesting Serb Janko Tipsarevic, American veterna Robby Ginepri, and the young Dutch talent Thiemo De Bakker will also be competing. Receiving wildcards to the event are Carlos Moya, back off injury, and Somdev Devvarman, last year’s finalist. For those that like to watch lesser known players mix it up on an ATP stage, Chennai is the cheap 3rd party livestream to find.
All players will be jockeying for position and seeding for the Australian Open, which is based on the rankings after the first week of the season.
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