1. The tennis season never ends: The "tennis offseason" might be an oxymoron in the order of "Ke$ha's Greatest Hits," but as long as players are (justifiably) unable to resist the lure or six- and seven-figure guarantees to play in certain events, it will be hard to talk seriously of shortening the tennis calendar. So it is that we had yet to ring in 2012 and already results were doing that shuffle-step across the bottom of our screens. (5) Kim Clijsters (BEL) def. Simona Halep (ROU) 6-1, 6-4.... [WC] J Duckworth (AUS) def. N Mahut (FRA) 6-4, 6-4.... The most intriguing event this week is the high-paying Qatar ExxonMobile Open that features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (who lost to Novak Djokovic in a recent exhibition and starts off against Nikolay Davydenko). Better yet, you can watch the action live streaming here.
2. Wozniacki, Murray making moves: As in most sports, the tennis offseason -- scant as it may be -- is a time for making coaching changes and other personnel moves. In early December, top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki hired Spain's Ricardo Sanchez to help her play a more aggressive brand of tennis. Last week, we learned of one of the more intriguing pairings when Andy Murray announced that he'll be retaining Ivan Lendl as his new full-time coach. While Lendl has been raising his profile over the past few years, there was little indication he was angling to serve as an aide-de-camp. Accomplished (and, frankly, wealthy) as Lendl is, he can express his honest opinions without worrying about the consequences on his career. At 51, he is sufficiently older than Murray that the two won't get too chummy or become Xbox buddies, but is still sufficiently young enough that he has credibility and a certain moral authority. At one point in his career, Lendl was the TBPWAS (The Best Player Without a Slam) and made the necessary adjustments. While Murray's context is obviously different, he, too, seeks to reach a higher plateau. If nothing else, this pairing should be well worth following.
3. A challenge awaits ATP's Brad Drewett: The ATP starts the year off with a new chief executive. After two outsiders held the post with varying degrees of success, the tour tapped a consummate insider this time. Brad Drewett, a former player and longtime ATP executive takes over. As ever, the challenges are significant: appeasing various constituencies whose interests aren't always aligned, addressing top players' concerns about excessive demands, improving sponsorships and media rights and negotiating for more prize money with the Grand Slams. On the plus side, the ATP's on-court product has never been better. And, as mentioned last week, this is true about Drewett: he goes into this job with his eyes wide open, fully aware of the landscape and landmines. This position almost takes on the dimensions of a classical quest. Let's see how he fares fighting tennis' equivalent of the Harpies and the Amazons, resisting the Sirens, crossing the Scylla of the ITF and the Charybdis of the USTA. Godspeed, Brad Drewett.
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