It's not very often you see the top players split across two tournaments like we're witnessing this week with Valencia and Basel - Davydenko and Murray are playing in Valencia, while Federer and Djokovic take on Basel. Highly unusual. Though, I have to say, I think Valencia would be the major port of call were not Basel Federer's home tournament and thus assigned more symbolic value...
No major seeded upsets in either of the tournaments today, with the exception of eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who went out to resurgent Swiss mister and Federer bestie Marco Chiudinelli. (Roger and Marco also played doubles together... yeah, they lost. Whatevs.) This can probably partly be ascribed to hometown advantage and crowd support, but Chiudinelli has put in some very consistently good performances lately, going reasonably deep (considering his ranking) in some tournaments. Here's hoping we can see a little more of him, because any friend of Roger is a friend of mine. Hopp Marco!
But one player I really do want to talk about is someone who lost in Basel today, and someone I'm coming dangerously close to admitting to the Club of Lost Souls, over which James Blake and Alize Cornet currently preside. That player is Benjamin Becker.
Okay, sure, this B Becker (aka Becker-no-relation) is never going to be a tennis legend in the manner of the other B Becker. Becker-no-relation doesn't have that sort of talent. But I've seen him play a bit and he's quite talented. He'll probably go down in history for being the player that defeated Andre Agassi in his last professional tennis match and not for anything much of his own merit, but still - I've seen him win matches. I've seen his win big matches. (I mean, Andre Agassi? End of his career? New York crowd? Tall order!)
...but this year? Becker-no-relation has been nowhere to be found.
Basel has been no exception, with Becker-no-relation going out in the first round to Viktor Troicki. Now, I've seen Troicki play before as well (in person) and he's also got some game, but I'd be picking Ben over him anytime. So where has Becker-no-relation gone this year? He was one of those players who was never going to be top ten himself, but always gave them a run for their money, occasionally pulling an upset... you know the type. He was a danger man. This year... more of a mouse. Sigh. Here's hoping it's an end-of-year thing, and that Ben-not-Boris is back bigger and better and upsettier next year.
Valencia Open 500 (Valencia)
Andy Murray def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 6-3 6-1
Gilles Simon def. Igor Kunitsyn, 6-3 6-2
Gael Monfils def. Marcel Granollers, 6-4 6-2
David Ferrer def. Nicolas Almagro, 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 6-2
Pablo Cuevas def. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3
Juan Monaco def. Martin Vassallo Arguello, 6-3 6-2
Leonardo Mayer def. Igor Andreev, 6-3 6-3
Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel (Basel)
Novak Djokovic def. Andreas Beck, 6-3 7-5
Marco Chiudinelli def. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-5
Viktor Troicki def. Benjamin Becker, 6-2 7-6 (7-5)
Jan Hernych def. Peter Luczak, 6-3 6-4
Evgeny Korolev def. Simone Bolelli, 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2
3 weeks ago