- Murray wins Brisbane: In a highly anticipated but lackluster final, Muzz beat Dolgopolov 6-2 6-4 to win Brisbane. Dolgo was hampered by a leg injury that he hopes will clear up before the Oz Open. Muzz has more pop on his serves now. This is the one area of his game that’s perhaps held him back in the past. Even Rafa, who has a slower serve for his top status, manages higher consistency/percentages. Whether it was due to the pressure of playing under Ivan Lendl’s eye, Muzz stepped up the variety and placement on his 1st serves. During the trophy ceremony, he thanked “Mr. Lendl,” which led Darren Cahill to question Muzz about his own Muzz-given moniker of “Dazzler.” Apparently, Muzz is always polite to elders over the age of 50.
- Can Murray win a major?: The Oz Open is traditionally where Muzz plays his best tennis. Fed is still troubled by back problems, which saw him withdraw for only the 2nd time in his career from Doha. Could Lendl help Muzz adjust his game enough to trouble Djokovic or Rafa at the Oz Open? Among players who’ve never won a Grand Slam, Muzz has probably spent the most money on coaches/trainers. I don’t mean that as a way to undercut his obvious talent/skill, but more to highlight his commitment to improving and his fortune (both financial and general) in being able to procure skilled advisors. If anything, Muzz’s history of partnerships with coaches and former legends provides an interesting study in how his game has improved over the years. Despite Brisbane’s 250-status, the Lendl-Muzz pairing is off to a great start.
- Tsonga defeats Monfils to Win Doha: Monfils’ SF upset over Rafa saw him enter the Doha final — though Rafa faltered at the match’s end, his improved FH and BH tactics evidenced some of the changes he plans to bring to his game. Given how Gael spent his off-season flying from exho to exho, his SF win over Rafa was especially surprising. However, he seemed due for a comedown and it happened during the final against Tsonga. After the match, Gael apparently consoled himself by playing the piano in the hotel lobby at 1 AM.
- DelPo to play Sydney: DelPo is the top seed at the APIA Sydney Int’l. After a bye, his R2 opponent will be the winner of Ivan Dodig-Lukasz Kubot. He’s in the same section of the draw as Marcel Granollers, who defeated him in the Valencia SF last yr. DelPo gave an interview in Sydney, where he said “Djokovic has a target on his back,” and that “Roger and Rafa will be going after Novak because they don’t want him to repeat the year he just had.” As for his own goals, DelPo says “I have many goals this year. I want to play like I did all those years ago.” DelPo’s words have the air of a veteran, which is surprising when you consider that Dolgopolov is the same age as DelPo. At 23, he’s still on the young side of the tennis age spectrum though. When asked if he considered himself a genuine contender for the Oz Open, DelPo replied he was not a favorite. His performance in Sydney will reveal more about what to expect.