Best of Three: ATP's Old Guard steps up, Dubai's double Djokovic
In Buenos Aires, David Ferrer (turns 30 on April 2nd) won his 13th career title, beating countryman and defending champ Nicolas Almagro in the final, a day after beating David Nalbandian (30) in the semis. In Memphis, Jurgen Melzer (30) pulled a mild upset, beating the ascending American* Milos Raonic in the final. Playing with a broken toe, Melzer beat Radek Stepanek (33) in the semis.
Barely middle-aged, Juan Martin del Potro (23) won the Marseille, France, event. But he had to go through 31-year-old Michael Llodra in the final, a serve-and-volleyer, no less.
As the sport has become so preposterously physical, it's changed the demographics of the field. Yes, it's made the teenage phenom all but extinct. It's almost beyond comprehension that a teenager, still lacking full maturity, (say Boris Becker in 1985 or Michael Chang in 1989 or even Pete Sampras in 1990) could contend for a major. It also means that while players invariably endure injury, they can sometimes get those years back at the tail end of their careers.
But there was also Marko Djokovic, ranked No. 867, who "earned" a wild card -- a wild card, one safely assumes, that came as a condition of his brother's commitment. We can have a healthy debate here. Is Novak using his leverage in a creative way, helping to catalyze the career of his younger brother? Or does this fly in the face of fair play, depriving a far more deserving player of a spot?
? Doubles winners from last week: In a rematch of their controversial Australian Open match, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond beat Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-1 in Dubai. In Marseille: Nicolas Mahut and Ed Roger-Vasselin beat Devin Brown and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 10-6. In Buenos Aires, David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco beat Michal Mertinak and Andre Sa 6-4, 6-4. In Memphis, the trophy went to Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, who beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo.
? Here's the most recent SI Tennis Podcast. Goof stuff from John Isner.
? Think it's only women who grunt? Think again. A shout out (and then some) to Jerzy Janowicz!