So Doha has not yet started, but can I just say - Dinara Safina may not have been in spectacular form lately, but she was rocking that dress she was wearing at the draw ceremony. She looked gorgeous. I'd dearly love to see her do well - ideally, win - in this tournament, to at least make some of these catcalls of 'worst #1 ever' go away, because despite everything, I still believe in Dinara. So here's looking at you, Dina, in your rockin' dress and awesome shoes - cheering for you!
One group does seem to be a lot stronger than the other - though it might just be because it contains both Williams sisters. We have Dinara, C-Woz, Jankovic and Vika in the White Group, and Serena, Venus, Sveta and Elena D in the Maroon Group. I don't want to go making predictions, and it's mostly because I genuinely don't know who to pick. I wouldn't say any of these ladies has shown especially amazing form lately - Sveta is the only one coming in off a win, and much as I think she's awesome, her headcaseness cannot be denied - and for every good point I can think of for all of them, I can think of a few bad points as well.
For starters, Dinara: she's got the game, she's got the grit, but she's been all over the place since Wimbledon, if not earlier. I certainly believe she can win this tournament, but whether I believe she will or not is another story.
Serena: Hasn't played much lately. Hasn't done much of anything since the infamous semi against Clijsters in New York. This tournament isn't a Slam, and I don't know how much she's going to bring to the table.
Venus: Same deal as Serena when it comes to the tournament not being a Slam - but she did win it last year, and I'm sure she'd be eager to defend. But same as Serena again in not having much done much of anything since New York, though at least she doesn't come in with a monkey on her back like her sister does.
Dementieva: She played awesome at the beginning of the year. She played an awesome match against Serena in Wimbledon, where something resembling a serve was sighted. Unfortunately, it hasn't been seen since, and the odds on it showing up here...?
Wozniacki: I could say something about her being vanilla and boring, but she did make it to the US Open final, an achievement which cannot be discounted, even in a weakened field. However, she retired hurt last week, and injury lurks around her.
Azarenka: I don't like her attitude. And while she started off the year strongly, with that Miami title, she crashed out early in New York and I can't remember her doing a lot before that either. And I don't like her. So there.
Kuznetsova: If she's on song, I would just hand her the trophy now. She can beat anyone when she has her day, and she won a Slam this year, and she's coming in off her win. However, will it be her day, or will Captain Headcase rear his ugly head?
Jankovic: Really shouldn't be here, in my opinion. Hasn't won enough stuff to merit it - crashed out immediately after qualifying for here last week. I don't see her suddenly becoming awesome again and destroying the field. Would have given the spot to Clijsters.
So who's going to win?
...you got me.
I'd like to say Dinara. I think this might give her some confidence and a bit of validation for being back in that #1 spot. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and pick Kuznetsova this time. She is capable of roundly thrashing every player here, if she plays to the best of her ability. So it's not a question of her ability, but whether she can bring it to play. And you know what? I think she can.
St Petersburg Open (St Petersburg)
Karol Beck def. Viktor Troicki, 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4
Bjorn Phau def. Stanislav Vovk, 6-3 6-2
Denis Istomin def. Rainer Schuettler, 6-4 6-4
Bank Austria Tennis Trophy (Vienna)
Nicolas Almagro def. Peter Luczak, 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-1
Daniel Brands def. Robert Kendrick, 7-6 (7-5) 7-5
Victor Crivoi def. Jan Hernych, 6-3 6-3
Wayne Odesnik def. Lukas Rosol, 6-2 5-7 7-6 (8-6)
Frederico Gil def. Stefan Koubek, 4-6 6-4 6-4
Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon (Lyon)
Juan Monaco def. Josselin Ouanna, 6-3 6-2
Julien Benneteau def. Alberto Martin, 7-6 (7-1) 6-1
Florent Serra def. Christophe Rochus, 6-3 6-3
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago