Tomaz Bellucci


Down Under, the Bryan brothers won their 6th Aussie doubles crown, with a straight sets win, 6-3, 6-4 over Robin Haase and Igor Sjisling.  On their illustrious careers, they now have 13 major titles, 4 more than the magical American team of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who had 9 major titles with one another.  While we don’t always have the same respect for the Aussie titlist in singles, because of the surface usually, and because we are old school, and we just don’t weight as heavily the Australian Open as we do the majors, as far as the ranks within the majors go.  But doubles is different entirely.  In team tennis, what doubles is, you are not going to have a great chance if you are not synched up and in tune with your partner, and even then, there are no guarantees.  What makes doubles so interesting, among other things, is that it is still very much bang bang tennis–short rallies, true attack tennis, net play–and as synched as you are, the opponents may just be better that day, you lose, even if your name is Serena and that’s it.

Or, you might throw 2 guys together and they might even be baseliners or less bold players, like Bellucci/Paire and they me playing Rojer/Qureshi, 6th seeds who are heavily favored, and for most of the match you are shaking your head at how Bellucci is killing his team, like at the AO 3rd round men’s, and then Bellucci pulls it together for a few games late, and Quereshi and Rojer, a major calibre team, is going home.  Doubles is interesting for so many reasons, and therefore, we must cherish how much doubles we get on those mix channels at major time.  When else is it even televised?  All these tour stops now between the AO and RG, we will be lucky to catch a handful of doubles finals on TTC in all those months, and yet I have just seen TTC air 6 Destination Tennis episodes since last night, all previously aired heavily.  You’d think The Tennis Channel could throw a doubles match in once in a while, but since they aren’t even willing to send a broadcast team to road Davis Cup ties, these reasons come up when one inevitably call TTC a second rate network.

The Bryans have always been good players.  They were both top 100 singles players, if not actually then certainly potentially, but they choose doubles and focused on it, and obviously America is lucky they did.  I thought both played singles very offensively, and with improved conditioning, could have played that way well enough to see some singles success.  For the Bryans to be this good, this in step, well, obviously it has been a labor of love, but yes, a labor.  Nothing gets this good without planning and coordination, and work.  Winning 6 AO’s, more or less the first real high stakes tennis of the year, when it might be even harder to be at your best because of a lot of poor conditions, from heat to surface/injury problems, and because most teams have yet to get in step, and find that groove ultimately necessary for big things to happen.  Even the Williams sisters slipped up Down Under, giving the very good team of Errani/Vinci (one handers holla) life, enough for them to get in step and hand the Williams’ a very rare defeat.  Rarers so is the Bryans losing in doubles in DC, where they are 20-2 in their careers, essentially losing twice now over 2 decades, and providing the true linch pin that America owes at least a healthy amount of whatever success they have in Davis Cup to.

Both the Bryans play one handed tennis, they are expert at net, and really, magicians.  They are the most unheralded athletes perhaps anywhere.  And today they play a very good team of Melo/Soares for Brazil, on a fast American court, in a Davis Cup tie, which is really the truest form of doubles left today, where you must win 3 sets.  Only the French Open and US Open are left as majors where teams need to even win 2 sets out of 3, as now we are seeing, even at majors, these 10 point mini deciding sets.  Puke.  At least Wimbledon is still pure, best of 5 set tennis.

Do yourself a favor and tivo the Bryans today at 2 PM.  There’s no excuse for not doing so if you really love tennis.

Crack (

Venus (above) looking very serious in Luxembourg.

BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open — Final

9:00 AM EST (9 PM, TTC)

Venus Williams:  – 400

Monica Niculescu:  + 300


We can’t be happier than to see Venus with this easy opportunity in Luxembourg City tomorrow.  We of course hesitate here for a moment because we may have just jinxed her, and we have noticed that Lady V has played a lot of tennis this week, which she may not exactly be as used to as she was in her prime, or even just a mere two years ago.  This was a great week for Venus on the court though, beating the impressive but heavily acne-ed German Mona Barthel (yes, Venus slipped her the bagel), top seed Roberta Vinci (a shout for the Italian one hander), and German Andrea Petkovic.  Frankly, while the head to head sits at love love, Niculescu is a poor world #70, she is a bona fide journeywoman, and this was in all likelihood, the best week in her life.  Venus could not have asked for a better matchup in this final.  We also think Niculescu played way over her head earlier in defeating the heavily favored Daniela Hantuchova.  Niculescu may come into this spot with stars in her eyes, and she could be already satisfied at this run.  Or maybe, she’s super motivated to win her 1st career title.  That may be safe to assume, but she is playing Venus Williams here.

We don’t consider this at all similar to Williams-Rezai in Spain a few years back.  Rezai stunned Venus on the clay, after a great week, and we thought that Venus was unprepared to play on that Sunday.  Rezai is a very competent clay courter, theoretically, when she can be located on the face of the earth.  And clay does not suit our Lady V.  But indoors do.  Venus sits at world #41 right now, and with the win, she would re-enter the top 30, by our estimation, on Monday.  Should she win, it will be the first singles title for Venus since Abierto Mexicano, way back in 2010.  It would also be Williams’ 44th career singles crown.

WTA Kremlin Cup — Final

5:00 AM EST (TTC)

Sam Stosur:  – 115

Caroline Wozniacki:  – 115


Please.  Who thinks this is an even matchup?  Stosur leads the h2h 3-2, but she is obviously the much better player, the true champion, the contender with real weapons, whereas Caroline Wozniacki, The Dutch Miss, is the pretender, the chump, the so-so face with the pop gun game.  We would never lay money on Wozniacki, and if you follow us you know why.  Wozniacki is a joke.  Let’s be real.  Her time, which never really came, is now past, and until she makes serious coaching, training, and scheduling changes, she will remain a laughingstock.

ATP Kremlin Cup — Final

7:00 AM EST (TTC)

Andreas Seppi:  – 200

Tomaz Bellucci:  + 160


Seppi is the better fast court player, and we are especially impressed with his play on grass over the last few years.  We feel that translates to indoors.  Bellucci is a clay court specialist, a very poor man’s Rafa, right down to the corkscrew lefty forehand, the grinding, and the incessant running.  But we aren’t comfortable with Seppi as a favorite.  Remember that our philosophy is to make the better bet and that we look for positive money lines.  Speaking for ourselves, we’d probably take a cheap flyer on Bellucci, even though Seppi is a better player.

If Stockholm Open — Final

9:00 AM EST

Tomas Berdych:  – 180

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 150


We feel like Berdych does everything a little better than Tsonga, and is much stronger mentally.  We’d not be surprised if this match is similar to the one they just played in Beijing, in which Berdych won in straights.

Crack (

Victoria Azarenka (above), ripping a forehand to shreds out in Indian Wells.

We’ve got on Djokovic-Isner, and we’re watching because this what we do.  We’ve watched far worse matches, as you know.  But we are feeling a theme here as far as inevitable outcomes and such.  Isner just broke back in the first set with Djokovic serving for the set.  And now he’s popping aces, and it really looks like we’re headed for a breaker.  Isner did make a bit about how he enjoys playing on slower courts, because he’s slow.  Gives him more time.  And this is an awfully slow court.  In our estimation, some clay courts are faster and that only Miami is slower in America.  We don’t like this tennis.

Miracles do happen.  But this is already gravy for Isner, just making a Masters Series semi.  We just don’t see it happening.  The destiny here is that Djokovic wins, and that he plays Nadal in the final and he beats Nadal again, who is tired from it being his first tournament of the year since Melbourne, and the doubles is also tiring him out, where he happens to play Isner and Querrey in the final.  He and Marc Lopez.

The destiny is also that, despite the way he has looked at times, you can’t really be fooled into thinking here that Federer has a shot against Nadal.  We can always make some angle on it, like the ‘Nadal is tired’ one.  But this court totally suits Nadal.  It is the same court surface where Nadal has beaten him twice in Australia, just a different tacky shade of the Plexicushion.  Nadal’s forehands are bouncing up to the moon practically.  This is not a court many guys are going to hit through.  Evidence of that was Federer-Bellucci the other night, where Roger is in a dogfight because neither guy is hitting many winners.  Bellucci tied Federer in knots.

That’s what happens on this surface to talented players.  They have to hit sometimes 3 or 4 extra shots or more, and it really favors weak pusher backboard tennis.  So we can smell destiny.  Roger on this surface with Nadal is similar to Roger in Miami against Nadal, and we remember that loss there right?  Embarrassing.  Lookie here, Isner up 5-3 in the breaker.  Very nice.

Also, it’s windy out there and Federer plays late in the day.  Those conditions also greatly promote pusher hack tennis.  Slower conditions off the ground with the wind making it harder to serve.  Here are the odds:

2012 Indian Wells Masters 1000 Series Mens Semifinal: 

Federer:  + 125

Nadal:  – 155


If we were inclined to play this match, we’d play Nadal.  We’ve resisted saying that before, holding out for hop that the great man could make a miracle, and it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen.  In our eyes, he is destined to lose to Nadal on any hardcourt anywhere that isn’t ultra fast.  We think ultra fast is no longer the way to describe Flushing, and we are there all the time.  Maybe Cincinnati.  That’s maybe the one outdoor venue where Federer could take Nadal.  You know we love Roger, but that’s the truth unless something changes the equation.

What we did like was Azarenka today, also destiny’s child.  Azarenka is several cuts above Sharapova, who is weaker here than in Melbourne.  This is gonna be a beat down’s beat down.  We knew knew knew that Azarenka was gonna roll over Kerber last night, and we give Kerber a fairly decent shot against Azarenka, who we do not give most.  But at (-1200) there’s not a lot you can do with that for Azarenka.

Today the odds were way more reasonable:

2012 Indian Wells Ladies Final:

Azarenka:  – 340

Sharapova:  + 260


This matchup is terrible for Sharapova.  Azarenka shows zero mercy to second serves, and she simply can not be taken off the ground by Sharapova, or out-defended by Sharapova, and she can’t out-serve her or use the net better.  This match is over before it starts.  Azarenka is still undefeated this year, and we’ll be adding another win to her perfect mark.

All matchups, all the time.  Nadal bad for Federer.  Djokovic bad for Nadal.  Federer bad for Del Potro.  Bellucci bad for Federer.  Azarenka bad for everyone.  Djokovic bad for everyone.  Nadal bad for everybody but Djokovic.  Very rarely does the hot guy just come in and blow everyone away, unless the hot guy happens to be Djokovic or Azarenka.  So we’d bet Nadal, and so feel free to take that from us.

And Azarenka, with how she’s playing, is an absolute steal at (- 340).  The days of getting her at that price are all but over.  BTW, Isner 7-6, 2-2 right now.  And we’d love to see Querrey and Isner beat Nadal and Lopez.  That would be good for tennis.

Crack (

Court Philippe Chatrier


(1) Serena vs. (29) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

(15) Arevane Rezai and (19) Nadia Petrova to complete their suspended match, picking up at 7-7 in the 3rd.  We know that Venus Williams will be pulling hard for Petrova, because Rezai smoked Venus in the Madrid final, and comes into Roland Garros at # 19 in the world, up 25 spots from # 44, where she ended 2009.  Rezai was playing average tennis, but caught fire in Madrid, and has now won 8 straight matches to raise her record in 2010 to 18-11.

(31) Victor Hanescu vs. (3) Novak Djokovic

(28) Lleyton Hewitt vs. (2) Rafael Nadal…the 2 major champions will meet at Roland Garros for the 3rd time in 4 years.  Hewitt, who is 4-5 lifetime versus Nadal got totally dusted by Rafa last year in the 3rd round, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.  The last time Hewitt beat Rafa was at Queens Club in 2006 in a match where Nadal retired after the 2nd set.  Otherwise, Hewitt’s last victory over Nadal was way back in 2005, but this is a marquee matchup nontheless.

(12) Sharapova vs. (22) Henin…Sharapova is playing on her worst surface, and the clay is slowing down her already vulnerable serve, while Henin has looked really good in her comeback on the dirt so far.  Both players are confident, coming in each with tournament victories, but Sharapova will not be able to blow Henin off the court with big serves and forehands as she has done on hards on the big stages in Flushing and Melbourne.  Henin is 6-3 vs. Maria lifetime and has never lost to her on clay.

Court Suzanne Lenglen


(6) Dandy Andy vs Teimuraz Gabashvili…with a win, Roddick equals his career best at Roland Garros–his trip to the 4th round last year.  Roddick may have to play a near impossible opponent in the round of 16–clay court specialist David Ferrer.  A tall order.  It would be interesting to see that match come off, as a gauge for Roddick, who has improved greatly under his superb coach, Larry Stefanki.

(18) Shahar Peer vs. (13) Marion Bartoli…the hope of a nation, Israel’s Shahar Peer, takes on the unorthodox French woman, Marion Bartoli, who is the highest ranked player in the men’s or women’s game, and one of the only, who hits with 2 hands on both sides.  The clay should benefit Bartoli’s 2-handed style, giving her more time to set up her shots, but Bartoli is plagued by weight issues, which would detract from her ability to have success on a clay court.  Peer leads the head to head 6-2, and has a victory over Bartoli at the French Open (2005).

(7) Verdasco vs. (30) Kohlschreiber…we love Kohlschreiber’s one hand backhand and fluid game, and he has shown the ability to slay giants on the big stage, defeating Andy Roddick in Melbourne in 2008 and Djokovic here last year.  Verdasco is the clear favorite on paper, but Kohlschreiber is an excellent clay courter in his own right.  He destroyed David Ferrer at the World Team Championships in Germany on red clay, 6-0, 6-1 in 2008.

(4) Jelena Jankovic vs. (27) Alona Bondarenko…I’ll say it.  I can’t stand Jankovic.  I hate her game.  She has a terrible serve, and is too busy playing every tournament she can to actually practice the shot.  So all her matches are these break laden, moon ball fests, and it pains me that she is a top player.  But notice how she has hovered around the top 5, and has logged weeks at # 1, and has never won a singles major.  Because eventually, in a major, you are going to play somebody who can handle a 67 MPH second serve.  Will she finally get on the board and win a major, or will she never?  I’m going to vote never.  In tennis, you are only as good as your second serve.

Other notable matches…


(22) Jurgen Melzer vs. (9) David Ferrer…wouldn’t Roddick love an upset here?  You know what?  It’s possible.  Melzer is no quit player, and a very good clay courter in his own right.  Put it this way: if Ferrer mauls Melzer, Andy’s in big trouble.

(16) JCF vs. Robby Ginepri (USA)…Ferrero is one of the best clay courters around and also, a former French champion.  at one point this year, he had a 17 match win streak on clay.  Ginepri shows up to this one already happy, but for a horrible, boring, bland grinder, he’s done a lot with his game since coach Jose Higueras resurrected his career.  I think Ginepri could play well tomorrow, and I will root for him, though he is probably my least favorite American.

(1) Bryan bros vs. Melo/Soares (Brazil)…ddon’t know much about Soares, but Marcelo Melo is a pretty decent doubles player, especially on clay.  The Bryans have played extremely well of late.  But nothing would surprise me.

(23) Hantuchova vs. (16) Wickmayer…Hantuchova has had a very disappointing career in my mind, for a talented, and pretty girl.  She was a top ten player for along time, but has only won 3 tournaments in her career, and she’s 27.  I’d like to see Wickmayer, a tall girl with a big arsenal to out slug DH.

(14) Ivan Ljubicic vs. (24) Tomaz Bellucci…Ljubicic is back from the dead, resurrected by legendary Aussie Bob Brett, but he just got finished with a 2 day marathon with an extended 5th set vs. Mardy Fish.  Bellucci has the legs and the classic retriever’s game.  I like the Brazilian.

(1) Serena/Venus vs. Hantuchova/Wozniacki…this matchup features one player on each team who has a match earlier in the day (Serena, Hantuchova).  That’s old time tennis.  Venus and Serena are pissed they didn’t win the Frenchh last year, and if they win it this year, they will have won four straight majors.  A win tomorrow would give them 21 straight match wins in majors.

Enjoy your tennis (even though it’s clay),

Crack (