Monday February 14th, 2011

A best of three while eagerly awaiting this year's BNP Paribas Showdown event at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28 ...

1. Curious week for Clijsters. Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters was hardly at her best last week in Paris, struggling for three matches and losing to Petra Kvitova -- a future top-10 player, it appears -- in the final. Clijsters did, however, regain the top ranking, unseating Caroline Wozniacki. This is good news to all involved. It's another plum for Clijsters, another bit of supporting evidence that this is one of the great comeback stories in sports history. It's good for the WTA, which now has the winner of the last two majors inhabiting the rankings penthouse. (Which is to say, there's a sense of logic and order.) And it's a disguised blessing for Wozniacki, who can go about her goal of winning her first major without the annoying questions about the authenticity of her top ranking.

2. Another game for Milos! Yes, Milos Raonic, 20, the lanky, titanically serving Canadian continues surging. After he broke though at the Australian Open and reached the second week, Milos Forehand won his first ATP title at the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., beating Fernando Verdasco. He won bonus points for good-guyness, too. When his semifinal opponent, Gael Monfils, pulled out with a wrist injury, Raonic played an impromptu exhibition match against Ivo Karlovic -- 13-plus feet of tennis! -- perhaps the only man who might be armed with a bigger serve. Tom Tebbutt -- who should be writing in print -- and other Canadian tennis fans are dancing on Bloor Street. (Oddly, Verdasco and Raonic play each other in Memphis on Tuesday!)

3. Acquiescent Andy: Some curious results at the ABN AMRO event in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Top seed Robin Soderling defended his title, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a three-set final. The head-scratcher, though, was Andy Murray's quiet early-round exit at the hands of Marcos Baghdatis. Last year, Murray reached the final of the Australian Open, failed to win a set against Roger Federer and then went into a tailspin that lasted well into the summer. It'll be interesting to see how he plays these next few weeks. On the other hand, nice to see him win a few rounds of doubles alongside his brother Jamie.

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