The fields for the early tournaments next year are beginning to take shape - and the organisers of the ATP tournament in Doha must be quivering with delight. The women's season-ending championships (why, why did no one think to call it the Brouhaha in Doha? I thought that was hilarious) may have been a bit dull, but the field that's starting to take shape for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open is very exciting. It includes not only the Andies (Murray and Roddick respectively) but now the two biggest guns in tennis, R-Fed and... Rafa ('R-Nad' just doesn't work.)
Federer's played Doha before, but not for a while - 2006, if memory serves - but I don't remember a field of this high a quality there in years. I remember Ljubicic winning it in recent memory, and possibly Gael Monfils, though maybe he was only a finalist. I can't remember. So what a boost for Doha this will be. Maybe this will be the real Brouhaha in Doha. I invented that pun, and I'm dying for someone to use it - so maybe Roger, Rafa and the Andies will give me reason.
Sydney, on the other hand, which is close to my heart, because, hello, closest thing I have to a home tournament, is looking... all right, I guess, but not whoa, smash bang fabulous. So far, they've announced Tsonga, Simon, Berdych, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Gasquet, Robredo and most recently Fish and defending champ Tursunov. So not a bad field, but it ain't no Doha. Rafa played there the first year I attended, which was '07 - though to be fair, he only played for about a set before deciding he was injured and throwing in the towel against Chris Guccione. Still, I was there and I saw him, up close and personal (I may be exaggerating slightly there, but in the flesh, nonetheless). It'd be nice for the Sydney folks to see some of the big stars that they might have actually, you know, heard of.
But we all know the tournament that's closest to my heart is the Hopman Cup, even if it's clear across the other side of the country. Marat Safin promised he'd give the tournament organiser a decision on whether or not he would play in the first week of November, and we're well past that and his name's still on the schedule, so I'm quietly hopeful that we might be seeing Marat on the ATP tour again next year - hurrah!