Our weekly guide to who’s hot and who’s not in tennis
What impressed you more at the weekend, Sharapova’s right shoulder or her left? The left came ‘into play’ with a changeover bump during the Stuttgart final against Victoria Azarenka, with neither player wanting to give way as they crossed between the net and the umpire’s chair. Still, this was a long way from being a shoulder charge – the gold standard for shoulder-bumping remains Venus Williams and Irina Spirlea at the US Open. The right didn’t let her down either – this was one of her finest serving performances since the operation; she served eight aces and conceded just 17 points on serve to defeat the world number one in straight sets.
So it looks as though a rivalry is breaking out in the women’s game – you couldn’t have said that if Azarenka, who cuffed Sharapova in the Australian Open and Indian Wells, had again beaten the Siberian. It also had many thinking about whether this is the year that Sharapova could complete the career grand slam. If that happens, that self-deprecating line about her clay-court skills: “I’m like a cow on ice” should be buried six feet beneath the baseline of Paris’s Court Philippe Chatrier. Two of her last three titles have been on clay. Meet Maria Sharapova, a clay-court specialist.
The only person more impressive than Nadal on clay is himself. If there was not as much praise for Nadal as there should have been, after he beat David Ferrer to win the Barcelona tournament for the seventh time, that was because, the Sunday before, he had done something even more remarkable by winning an eighth title in Monte Carlo. Nadal has been overshadowing himself.
Is the Canadian going to be as dangerous at the French Open as he will be at Wimbledon? It looked that way as he defeated Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona tournament (he was beaten in the semis by Ferrer). “Milos has always played on hard courts – now he’s a threat on all surfaces,” said Murray.
Too much vitamin C, not enough common sense. The Swiss, who once followed a former coach’s instructions to drink several litres of orange juice a day, is reported to have fled to Germany with her husband because of unpaid debts in Switzerland. A Swiss newspaper, Tages Anzeiger, also reported that creditors forced an auction of her belongings, which included her rackets, some trophies and her diaries from her days in junior tennis. Though she earned more than 8 million dollars in her career, she and her husband are believed to owe more than 400,000 dollars.
You will struggle to find anyone in tennis who has a bad word for Petkovic (or who wants to bump shoulders with her at the changeovers). So the German will be given plenty of support and encouragement after the horrible luck she suffered in Stuttgart – her first tournament back since recovering from a back injury – where she rolled her ankle. Petkovic will miss the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics.
The son of one of Latvia’s richest men, Gulbis was once asked whether the rumours were true that he travelled to tournaments in his dad’s private jet. This was his response: “Yeah, and I have a helicopter, a submarine and a spaceship.” Whatever Gulbis is travelling in this season, he’s going in the wrong direction. He has only won two matches on the tour all year.