I wrote - oh, it must have been a couple of months back now - about the mysterious disappearance and re-appearance of Mikhail Youzhny. He went totally AWOL from about the US Open season last year until about Indian Wells-ish, when he began posting all right results again.
I say all right - it's been pretty quiet for Youzhny, really, when you consider that this is a man who has made a Grand Slam semi and has a couple of victories over Rafa Nadal under his belt. But every so often you see him creeping up through the draw, and - and I don't know where I'm really going with this, but although I can't confess I really noticed when he was gone, I certainly am glad he's back.
He's like Davydenko in that regard, I suppose - how many people missed Kolya when he was gone? Considering he has the personality of a boiled potato, I'd venture to say not many. But when he came back, it was great to have him. Both he and Youzhny bring a certain sort of... well, it's je ne sais quoi, really. From Kolya it's his dogged consistency. Youshny has a sort of militaristic determination not unlike that of Dinara Safina (though I think Dinara's better at it.) They're not essential to the game - not like, say, Federer is, or Nadal, without whom the game would definitely be less enjoyable - but they're good supporting characters, and it's nice to have them back (even if they could be edited out).
Speaking of Russians, let us flick over to the women's channel for a while and check on the progress of Maria Sharapova. I'd say she's doing quite well - though that tape on her shoulder is pretty frightening. She totally demolished Darya Kustova in Warsaw - sure, I mean, who on earth is that? but any win is a good win when you're in Maria's position. I've never been a huge Sharapova fan, but she is (unlike Youzhny and Davydenko) a little more than a supporting character, and the game has been a lesser place without her.
ARAG ATP World Team Championships (Dusseldorf)
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-3
Maximo Gonzalez def. Simone Bolelli, 6-3 5-7 6-4
Interwetten Austrian Open Kitzbuhel (Kitzbuhel)
Jurgen Melzer def. Agustin Calleri, 6-4 7-5
Victor Hanescu def. Marcel Granollers, 6-1 7-6 (7-2)
Mikhail Youzhny def. Stefan Koubek, 6-2 6-4
Oscar Hernandez def. Andreas Beck, 7-5 6-4
Daniel Koellerer def. Diego Junqueira, 6-1 6-2
Juan Ignacio Chela def. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, 6-3 6-2
Julien Benneteau def. Nicolas Massu, 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (9-7)
Warsaw Open (Warsaw)
Klara Zakopalova def. Zheng Jie, 6-0 6-4
Alexandra Dulgheru def. Sara Errani, 6-4 6-3
Daniela Hantuchova def. Urszula Radwanska, 6-3 6-1
Alona Bondarenko def. Marta Domachowska, 6-3 6-1
Anne Keothavong def. Jill Craybas, 3-6 6-3 6-1
Galina Voskoboeva def. Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-4 7-6 (7-5)
Ioana Raluca Olaru def. Julia Goerges, 6-3 -6 7-6 (7-3)
Maria Sharapova def. Darya Kustova, 6-2 6-0
Internationaux de Strasbourg (Strasbourg)
Kristina Barrois def. Anabel Medina Garrigues, 6-4 retired
Peng Shuai def. Pauline Parmentier, 6-3 7-6 (8-6)
Steohani Cohen-Aloro def. Gisela Dulko, 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4
Ayumi Morita def. Julie Coin, 4-6 6-0 6-4
Aravane Rezai def. Anastastiya Yakimova, 6-4 6-1
Lucie Hradecki def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 7-5 6-0
Monica Niculescu def. Yuliya Beygelzimer, 5-7 6-0 6-4
Viktoriya Kutuzova def. Stephani Foretz, 3-6 6-3 6-2