A mystery stomach bug is striking down men's and women's players at the Indian Wells Masters tennis event, but former world No. 1 Roger Federer shook off illness to cruise to victory in his opening match.
The ATP World Tour Finals event was a colossal letdown on many fronts, replete with injuries, dubious effort and the crystal-clear messages from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal that the men's Tour simply runs too long. None of that seemed particularly surprising. The overriding story, from this viewpoint, was a Roger Federer masterpiece recalling the best of Pete Sampras.
1. Loving Cup: For as much space, pixels and air time is devoted to "fixing" the Davis Cup, last weekend we got a taste of all that's right about the event. Before 16,000 raucous fans in Belgrade, Serbia won the country's first championship, beating France, 3-2. Viktor Troicki played hero, taking down Michael Llodra in the winner-take-all match on Sunday evening. But the MVP was Novak Djokovic, who played near-flawless tennis under near-unfathomable pressure. If you happened to catch the Serbian celebration (including Janko Tipsarevic's alcohol-fueled tweets late into the night), read of the significance -- "the greatest moment in the country's history" according to more than a few accounts -- or see the French agony, you don't doubt the relevance of the competition.
1. Rockin' Robin: Rafael Nadal may own Paris, But Robin Soderling is undertaking a fine land grab of his own. The hard-hitting Swede has, of course, reached the Roland Garros final in both 2009 and '10. And he added to his Gallic success last weekend, marrying his flat, pace-laced game on the greased lightning courts of Bercy to his first TMS/ATP 1000 series title. Soderling's run included a dramatic semifinal win over Michael Llodra -- in which he salvaged match points -- and a demolition of Gael Monfils in the final. What did Soderling get out of the deal? Nearly $400,000, a snazzy new ranking of No. 4, a ration of momentum heading into the London year-end event ... and the ugliest trophy known to man.
The U.S. Open is often a barometer of American tennis and its prospects for the future, but appearances can be deceiving. Ryan Harrison struck just about everyone as the real thing, a clever and imaginative kid who has every right to think big. The women's side -- and that's two years running -- has the look of a mirage.
It was shortly after the conclusion of the 2005 Davis Cup, won by Croatia on the strength of Ivan Ljubicic's 11-1 record, when someone asked Roger Federer about the tall, bald fellow at the center of things. "He's very secure, you know," Federer said. "He doesn't really look like he's going to panic."
1. Ring in the old: It was a good week for players in need in strong results. Some of you wondered why Maria Sharapova would take a pass on the well-paying Dubai event to enter Memphis. Perhaps the answer: to bolster her confidence and get in some matches and pick up some appearance-fee bounty in the process. She did all three at the Regions Morgan Keegan event, winning her first title of 2010. Other highlights from the bank of the Mississippi: Ernests Gulbis, a top 10 prospect not long ago, put together some nice wins and reached the semis. Nicole Vaidisova, whose career has been in the abyss, won a main draw match for the first time in a long time. In Dubai, Venus Williams, perhaps still stung by a disappointing loss in the Aussie Open quarters, won her 42nd career title, beating Victoria Azarenka in the finals. Don't count her out yet. Michael Llodra won both the singles and doubles in Marseille. David Nalbandian returned in Buenos Aires. Juan Carlos Ferrero, suddenly resurgent,