Best of Three: Federer bounces back; Azarenka filling WTA void
But the dead rubbers had barely been completed before Federer was off to Rotterdam -- lured, we were told, by a $1 million appearance fee, tax-free -- to compete in the ABN Amro event. Looking like the Federer of old (or the Federer who sailed through the first week of the Aussie Open last month), he won each four his four matches, including a rout of Juan Martin del Potro in the final, to claim his first title of 2012.
Finally, it appears we may have a Queen Bee. Or a Queen Vee, as it were. Fresh from her breakthrough performance at the Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka -- the new No.1 -- sure looked the part in Duabi last week. She simply carved up the draw, culminating with a 6-1, 6-2 evisceration of Sam Stosur in the final.
"It's amazing. I can't believe I could play that kind of tennis today," Azarenka said. "I knew I wouldn't be 100 percent, so I had to change and adjust. I was just surprised today that everything was going in."
There's a lot of tennis left to play this year, of course. And the next major is three months away. But right now, we have a leading actress. (And a bonus, Azarenka has a fan in NFL coach Brian Billick.)
Canada's Milos Raonic, on the other hand, did the reverse. He withdrew from Davis Cup with what was thought to be a slight tear in his knee. A follow-up revealed that the injury was simply some untimely swelling. Raonic opted to play San Jose and offered a glimpse of why he's been pegged for a future Grand Slam. Serving ferociously and playing poised tennis at the critical junctures, he defended his title. He now heads to Memphis, an event he nearly won last year if not for this incredible shot on championship point from Andy Roddick.