Here’s a quick recap of the second week on tour. It’s hard to believe that after just a couple of short weeks we are already on the brink of the year’s first Grand Slam!
Sydney was the recipient of the strongest field out of the two official ATP tournaments this past week and yet somehow none of the major names advanced very far. James Blake was beaten for the first time by Fabrice Santoro (aka The Magician) in the first round and Lleyton Hewitt went down to fellow Aussie Chris Guccione in round two.
Guccione, whose career record now stands at 25-31, made quite a run on home soil before falling in two close sets to Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Guccione seems to save his best for tournaments in his native Australia. It was only a year ago that he managed to make the finals in Adelaide. This week he knocked off some major names in Hewitt, Berdych and Stepanek.
Tursunov recorded some impressive victories this week himself, and after defeating Gasquet, Grosjean, and Santoro in consecutive matches, will likely not be receiving an invitation to France anytime soon. The Russian is heading into the Aussie Open with a full head of steam.
Not as many big names in attendance for this tournament, and the final of Kohlschreiber vs Ferrero is not likely one we’ll see repeated in two weeks time. Both of these players will be happy to take the points home with them, but I don’t see either one being a force on the bigger stage of Melbourne. A good week for Kohlschreiber as he takes his second career title, and first one on hard courts. I enjoyed the picture of both finalists holding mini-kegs from tournament sponsor Heineken! The only surprise in this tournament was David Ferrer falling to Julien Benneteau in the third round.
While not an official ATP tournament, the Kooyong Classic is an annual exhibition that occurs just before the Aussie Open. It typically has a strong field of eight players participating, and this year was no exception. Andy Roddick, Marcos Baghdatis, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Murray, and Marat Safin were all involved in the 2008 edition. Roddick won the event for the third time in a row and did not drop a set all week. Of note was Fernando Gonzalez losing both of his final two matches handily to Baghdatis and Safin. Which Gonzo will we see in Melbourne this year? For more info on the Kooyong Classic, see the tournament website (http://www.kooyong.com.au/)
And now on to the Aussie Open!