Let's get the actual tennis out of the way for starters. Just about everything came up Swiss in Basel overnight - Novak Djokovic took out Stan Wawrinka, but it's smooth sailing for one Mr R Federer, who made short work of Evgeny Korolev, and for his bestie Marco Chiudinelli the Resurgent, who also made short work of Richard Gasquet. Eminently satisfactory. It looks on track to be a Federer/Djokovic final and that would be pretty fun to watch... though not as fun as watching two childhood mates battle it out! I'm sure a lot of Swiss folks would love to see Roger vs Marco.
Everything fell the way it was supposed to in Valencia, pretty much - Gilles Simon was the only one who fell that, seedtastically speaking, probably shouldn't have, but he was playing Mikhail Youzhny, who has been made of awesome of late, so that's hardly surprising. Murray, Kolya and Nando all live to fight another day. Fun times, fun times.
And Bali is still as WTF? as ever - except for one thing. Vera Dushevina has been brought in as an alternate to replace Yanina Wickmayer. Why? Because the Flemish Doping Authority has banned her for one year, effective immediately. Same with her countryman Malisse.
I confess that the Malisse ban doesn't bother me as much - not because his circumstances were any more or less dodgy or anything, but because he's getting on and the better part of his career is definitely behind him. But Yanina Wickmayer? Title-winning, US Open semifinalist teenager Yanina Wickmayer? This could derail her whole career.
And the reason for the ban? She failed to report her whereabouts for testing three times over eighteen months. She claims this is due to a dodgy password, and technology being what it is, I see no reason why she shouldn't be believed. There's not a whiff of drugs about the girl. And three times over eighteen months? I could understand her getting a warning, or a slap on the wrist, or even a fine - but a one year ban is much, much too harsh. A one month ban, maybe, if you were being really mean - it'd rule her out of Bali but she'd be back by the Aussie Open. But this is frankly ridiculous.
The case of Malisse is also ridiculous - I can't remember what his offence was, but it was something else stupidly minor - but it doesn't tug at my heartstrings the way Yanina's does. She seriously has her whole career ahead of her, and this is not going to help. One can't help but think that is the backlash to the Agassi thing (about which I still have not been able to bring myself to write) and if it is, then that is stupid, reactive and unfair. Just because Yanina Wickmayer had computer problems doesn't mean she was off doing crystal meth somewhere.
Both Wickmayer and Malisse are planning to appeal, and I seriously hope these rubbish bans get overturned. Sure, drugs in sport is a big issue. However, tennis - whatever Andre Agassi might write - is pretty clean now. The biggest scandal we've had of late has been Richard Gasquet, and his poison of choice was cocaine, which isn't exactly performance enhancing. And he got off with, in the end, a slap on the wrist. If Wickmayer and Malisse's bans get upheld when they weren't guilty of anything more than being a bit cavalier with reporting, with no evidence they were actually doing drugs at the this time, then that is absolutely stupid. Slap on the wrist, tell them they were naughty and not to do it again - but you can't destroy someone's career over a password that didn't work.
Valencia Open 500 (Valencia)
Andy Murray def. Albert Montanes, 6-4 6-2
Nikolay Davydenko def. Guillermo Garcia Lopez, 6-4 7-6 (7-3)
Fernando Verdasco def. Tommy Robredo, 6-3 6-2
Mikhail Youzhny def. Gilles Simon, 6-4 6-4
Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel (Basel)
Roger Federer def. Evgeny Korolev, 6-3 6-2
Novak Djokovic def. Stanislas Wawrinka, 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2
Marco Chiudinelli def. Richard Gasquet, 6-1 6-3
Radek Stepanek def. Marin Cilic, 4-6 6-3 6-3
Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions (Bali)
Marion Bartoli def. Shahar Peer, 6-3 6-2
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez def. Samantha Stosur, 7-6 (7-4) 7-5
Vera Dushevina def. Anabel Medina Garrigues, 2-6 6-1 7-5
Sabine Lisicki def. Melinda Czink, 6-2 6-7 (1-7) 6-4
3 weeks ago