By Chris Oddo
Heroes and Zeros is Tennis Now's way of saying goodbye to the tennis week that was. As much as we'd like each week to last forever, there always comes a time when it's best just to move on to the next week. That time is now...
Photo Credit: Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images
Hero: Timea Babos
The 18-year-old Hungarian snatched her first WTA title (just one week after reaching her first career semifinal) in Monterrey, Mexico yesterday, and in the process she soared 39 spots up the rankings, reaching a career-high No. 68 while making her top 100 debut.
Zero: ATP Dubai
With eight top 10 players in the draw, there is nothing to complain about when it comes to the ATP Dubai Duty Free Championships. On second thought, scratch that, we have a gripe. When the tournament director and Dubai Duty Free Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Salah Tahlak elected to give a wildcard to Marko Djokovic, brother of world No. 1 Novak (and ranked a paltry 869 in the world), instead of the Arab No. 1 Malek Jaziri (ranked 104), it smacked of political subservience and back-room handshakes. No offense to any of the parties involved, but wouldn't the younger Djokovic be better off playing some challengers rather than riding around on his brother's coattails? And wouldn’t Dubai be better off paying respect to its homegrown talent?
Hero: The Ninja
Agnieszka Radwanska is known as "The Ninja" in certain circles, and while I don't know who came up with the name or why, it's clear that the new world No. 5 has been inflicting some serious damage on the rest of the tour of late. It makes many wonder: Is that a racquet or a Chinese Star she's hitting those funky drop shots and slice backhands with?
Radwanska took advantage of Victoria Azarenka's absence in Dubai to storm to her 8th career title and a career-best ranking of No. 5. To celebrate, she hopped a plane to Kuala Lumpur, where'll she'll take aim at her next draw full of victims.
Zero: Jurgen Melzer's Broken Toe
If Jurgen Melzer's broken toe was really that important, wouldn't the fact that it was broken before his title run in Memphis have kept him from winning the title? Clearly this toe was outmatched by the talent and sheer will of Melzer, who upset bomb-serving Milos Raonic in the final yesterday to cap an improbably good week.
Hero: Juan Martin Del Potro
The Tower of Tandil lifted the Marseille trophy Sunday, culminating a pair of tremendous weeks of indoor tennis that saw him gather steam with confidence-boosting wins over Tomas Berdych in Rotterdam and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Marseille. Now, if he could only impose himself on someone in the top four. He'll get the chance to do that over the next month and a half, with stops at Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami sure to serve as a barometer for Del Potro's true level at the moment.
Hero: Sofia Arvidsson
Arvidsson dedicated her win in the WTA Memphis final yesterday to her friend Vilmer, the four-year-old godson of her hitting partner Stefan Eriksson, who passed away due to cancer on Friday.
The match was important, sure, but the sweetness of Arvidsson's gesture and the tightness of her tennis family (also true of so many others like it on tour) resonated loudest.
Zero: Those who think Alexandra Dulgheru can't dance.
To anybody who would take the time to make a negative comment on the You Tube page that features Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru having some good clean fun at the WTA's player party in Monterrey, Mexico: Let's see you try it. The women clearly has a zest for life, what's not to like about that? Oh, and she can dance, too.
Hero: David Ferrer
Ferrer did just what we'd expect him to do in Buenos Aires last week: he won another clay court title by punishing the competition in a way that only Ferrer can.
Zero: Nicolas Almagro
Nico took the first set in the final against Ferrer down in Buenos Aires, but his valiant attempt to notch his first win in nine tries against his compatriot ended in futility, with Ferrer running Almagro ragged until the only thing he could do with precision in the final set was smash a racquet off of his own foot (the racquet head actually broke in half, I've never seen that before).