Only one Top 10 player is out and about in the week following the Australian Open, but the week holds three events at Montpellier, France (indoor hard); Vina del Mar, Chile (clay); and Zagreb, Croatia (hard).
Throw in a Fed Cup first round, and you’ve got a lot of tennis following a Grand Slam. Novak Djokovic definitely has hit feet up. Here’s a closer look at what going on this week on tour:
Open Sud de France; Montpellier, France; Surface: indoor hard
Seeds: Tomas Berdych, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils; Richard Gasquet; Feliciano Lopez; Florian Mayer; Philipp Kohlschreiber; Jarkko Nieminen
Floaters: Nicolas Mahut, Gilles Muller, (WC) Nikolay Davydenko
Notes: Wildcards also went to France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu and Guillaume Rufin; Tough openers include (6) Mayer vs. Muller, and possible (4) Gasquet (after a bye) vs. (WC) Davydenko; Berdych is making his first-ever appearance at the former Lyon event (moved to Montpellier in 2010); former champs in the field are Monfils (2010), Gasquet (2006) and Mathieu (2002).
VTR Open; Vina del Mar, Chile; Surface: red clay
Seeds: Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela, Thomaz Bellucci, Pablo Andujar, Albert Montanes, Santiago Giraldo, Carlos Berlocq, Filippo Volandri
Floaters: Igor Andreev, (WC) Nicolas Massu, (WC) Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez, (WC) Paul Capdeville
Notes: The event moves back to Vina del Mar from Santiago; first of a four-tournament claycourt swing through South America; veterans Massu and Gonzo try and make returns from host of injuries; top-seeded and two-time runner-up Monaco after a bye will face tough opener against either Andreev or home-country favorite Capdeville; Gonzo opens against Spain’s Pere Riba; second-seeded Chela is 6-8 career at the event; former champs in the field are Bellucci (2010) and Gonzo (2009-08,’04,’02).
PBZ Zagreb Indoors; Zagreb, Croatia; Surface: indoor hard
Seeds: Ivan Ljubicic, Alex Bogomolov Jr., Mikhail Youzhny, Ivan Dodig, Andreas Seppi, Marcos Baghdatis, Robin Haase, Ivo Karlovic
Floaters: Karol Beck
Notes: Three Croats among the seeds at the event Croats usually win; American-turned-Russian Bogomolov Jr. the second seed; last year the No. 84-ranking Dodig of Croatia won; the top-seeded Ljubicic is 16-5 career at the event, reaching the final in his first three appearances; former champs in the field are Dodig (2011), Stakhovsky (2008), and Ljubicic (2006).
Fed Cup, World Group I; World Group II
World Group I: Spain at Russia, Serbia at Belgium; Ukraine at Italy; Czech Republic at Germany
Can anyone stop Russia this year if they maintain their top rosters (Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova) this year? Does Kim Clijsters dropping out doom Belgium against Serbia and Jelena Jankovic? Can Petra Kvitova and the defending champion Czechs go into Germany and come out with a win?
World Group II: Belarus at U.S., Slovenia at Japan, France at Slovak Republic, Australia at Switzerland
Can the Williams sisters stop world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, or will they even play? Can the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm lead Japan past the low-ranked Slovenia squad into the main World Group? Can France, playing for the first time ever outside the World Group I, overcome a tough Slovak team (Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova)? With no one ranked in the Top 100, should Switzerland have pulled Martina Hingis and Patty Schnyder out of retirement against Sam Stosur and Australia?
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