Three of the big four are in action this week and so far they are all undefeated in 2012. After a humdrum showing at the Abu Dhabi exo last week, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shifted into high gear today.
Federer upped his win streak to 19 matches Wednesday after blowing out Slovenia’s Grega Zmelja 6-2, 6-3.
“It can be tricky when you enter the first tournament of the season, and right away you play an incredibly tough three setter, let’s say,” Federer said. “The body feels that, and that’s why I’m happy to be through into the quarter-finals without too much trouble.”
Federer, who won the title last year beating Nikolay Davydenko (and beat him again Tuesday), will play the soft-serving Andreas Seppi on Thursday.
The injury-riddled Nadal seems to be finding his groove. Buoyed by a bad shoulder and a heavier racquet, Nadal blasted an overmatched Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-2.
“I think I’m returning better, especially [compared to] the last part of the 2011 season,” Nadal said. “So that’s important, because the beginning of the points a lot of times are the key.
“I’m happy about how my return has worked the two days here and how a few things have worked well with the new weight of the racquet. I’m starting to have good feelings.”
“Good feelings” often equal good results. But with Rafa you don’t know anymore.
Nadal now faces a tricky opponent tomorrow in Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian is among the few that have four or more career wins over Nadal, and “Dr.” Youzhny won both their previous Middle Eastern meetings, those in Dubai.
If forms holds, Nadal would meet Gael Monfils in the semifinals, Federer would draw JW Tsonga (again!) this Friday.
Down in Australia, top seeded Andy Murray limped through two early three set matches. Murray hinted of some niggling injuries but the Scot, who more often than not feigns physical ailments on the court, doesn’t seem terribly worried. With new coach Ivan Lendl now on his team, though not with him in Brisbane, expectations are remain high for success this month.
“The more matches I can get this week the better so it’s been a good start,” Murray said after a shaky 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-0 win over Gilles Muller.
On Friday, Murray gets the his Brisbane doubles partner, the popular Marcos Baghdatis, in a battle of former Australian Open runner-ups in the Friday quarters. And the winner could face talented Aussie Bernard Tomic in the semifinals. Gilles Simon, in action as a write, is the No. 2 seed there.
In Chennai, future Top 10 Milos Raonic is through to the quarterfinals. As is Stan Wawrinka. Top seed Janko Tipsarevic and No. 2 Nicolas Almagro play their second rounders on Thursday.
And in women’s tennis Serena Williams is once again the center of attention. She yammered about not loving tennis and then promptly twisted her ankle yesterday in Brisbane. Her rant on the sport is virtually meaningless – does anyone take her words seriously anymore? But the ankle tweak is significant and it would be a downer should she be unable to play in Australia 10 days from now. Love em or hate em, tennis is that much more entertaining with the Williams sisters around.
THURSDAY QATAR SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 3:30 pm
A Ramos (ESP) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
 A Seppi (ITA) vs  R Federer (SUI)
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  M Youzhny (RUS)
 G Monfils (FRA) vs  V Troicki (SRB)
THURSDAY BRISBANE SCHEDULE (Already underway)
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 10:30 am
 J Jankovic (SRB) vs  F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
S Giraldo (COL) vs  G Simon (FRA) – ATP
K Kanepi (EST) vs  A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
I Benesova (CZE) vs  K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA
 R Stepanek (CZE) vs  A Dolgopolov (UKR) – ATP
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