Brisbane, Doha, Chennai, and the Hopman Cup are underway. I have caught a couple of nice slices of tennis, in fact. Watching Pouille close-out Simon in their two-set, two TB match was a good bit of hard-courting, some solid strokes, hard-fought points, 10 minute games with Pouille showing just a little more depth of style and youth than the forever mediocre but competent Simon. The all-French affair saw Simon up 5-0 in the first set before losing that first in a TB (6) and the second set more even before Simon fading in the 2nd TB (4). Pouille has a solid game, can volley effectively and find some nice angles to end points from the BL, as well. We saw it in NYC and here we are with a future star that needs more breakthrough beyond his maiden title last year in Metz. In a Brisbane field that includes Raonic (defending champ), Nadal, Thiem, a charging Dimitrov, Nishikori and Wawrinka, going deep here would be a great way for the 22 year-old to start 2017. Allez!
Dimitrov destroyed Stevie Johnson a few days ago. Not huge news, but Johnson had a decent 2016 for him yet the seemingly surging Bulgarian is continuing to show a pinch of promise. Nadal won as well against the puzzling Dolgopolov.
Brisbane ahead: QFs Raonic v Nadal, Thiem v Dimitrov (top half) and Nishikori v Ferrer (w/Donaldson v Kei test) and Stan v Pouille that hopefully plays-out. Never know but some solid tennis potentially.
Doha is all about a Novak v Andy final. Andy should survive to his Berdych or Tsonga SF whereas Djokovic will see, upon arrival, the likes of a Karlovic/Khachanov/Verdasco/Goffin SF (guess is as good as mine). We should see the first of many Andy v Novak 2017 tournament finals. This is all about AO mental-edge.
For Cilic’s sake, I really hope he finds the trophy in Chennai; the field contains some good players but he needs to be looking at a much bigger picture and has to survive that kind of lighter 250 tennis.
I also saw Federer give the Brit Dan Evans a bit of a free tennis lesson in their Hopman Cup match. Federer looked good against a guy who can hit shots on the hardcourt surface, the former squash player who had Stan at MP in NYC before getting eaten alive. Not going to say too much about this match or Fed’s form, but he looked sharp, accurate, handled some early moments and made pretty quick work of the youngster. Nice shot-making from both. The crowd was 13,000 plus. Yep. Perth, Australia. Roger. The post-match interview sounded like an episode of some celebrity crush, but to defend the Australian media-type, the Maestro was doing his thing. And I think we all know he hopes to find some big matches in Melbourne and beyond this year. Those big matches will be probably occurring much sooner than he or some of his perhaps top-ranked opponents will have hoped. Roger looks to be a 16 or 17 seed at AO. Unless there’s some kind of adjustment, that could make for some interesting draws.
Stay-tuned. I’ll be back soon.