Well, it couldn't last forever. Both Marat and Ernests went out today to opponents who are higher ranked, and, frankly, better than they are right now. No shame in that.
I don't know if there was ever much point hoping for Marat to beat Rafa - though a Marat who played to his potential, a la Marat AO '05, would certainly be capable of it. Rafa showed why he held the #1 spot for a year and why he's been at the top end of the game for so long. I'm pulling for him to win this title now - he deserves it, after a drought of about five months.
But I'm not here to make an ode to Rafa. I thought Marat did pretty well this week and though I'm not hoping for anything major from him in his last few tournaments, it'd be nice if he'd play like this week, win a few matches and fall to worthy opponents, instead of being like his sister and losing to people ranked in the #200s. Cool with you, Maratski?
Now, over to Ernie.
He lost, but I'm definitely seeing signs of life from the Latvian kid. He's working with Hernan Gumy now, I believe, and it's made a different. For the second week in a row, he played Jo-Wilfried tight in three. I think he has a bit of a problem with fading at the ends of matches which he needs to address, but things are looking up for Ernie. It used to be the height of trendiness to be an Ernie fan and now it seems to be the opposite. But I'm still siding with you, Ernie - now go out there, end the year with a few more consecutive wins and show me that my faith in you is not misguided!
China Open (Beijing)
Rafael Nadal def. Marat Safin, 6-3 6-1
Novak Djokovic def. Fernando Verdasco, 6-3 1-6 6-1
Marin Cilic def. Nikolay Davydenko, 6-4 6-4
Robin Soderling def. Ivan Ljubicic, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4
Marion Bartoli def. Vera Zvonareva, 3-6 7-5 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska def. Elena Dementieva, 7-5 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-3 6-3
Nadia Petrova def. Shuai Peng, 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships (Tokyo)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Ernests Gulbis, 4-6 6-4 6-3
Gael Monfils def. Stanislas Wawrinka, 2-6 6-3 6-4
Mikhail Youzhny def. Tomas Berdych, 6-2 7-6 (8-6)
Lleyton Hewitt def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-4 6-0
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago