(October 15, 2012) -- If the WTA ever decided to take on my brilliant reality-show idea, The Real Tennis Players of Pro Tours, they would have quite the casts and storylines to go off of in Moscow and Luxembourg, the respective stops on tour this week. As Istanbul is just a week out, it would have been fair to assume said reality casts to be ho-hum, but see below who is in action. Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer have nothing on these girls!
For the gents, meanwhile, the ATP World Tour exhales after a flurry of a week at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, which turned out to be a masterful event. Those exhales come in the form of three smaller tournaments in Moscow (with the ladies), Vienna and Stockholm. Let’s just hope -- beyond wanting some high-quality tennis to happen -- that the fellas are sporting some solid sweaters and layered wear at the players’ parties this week. It’s not often we get to see the boys of tennis all wintered up!
LUXEMBOURG (View Draws)
It wasn’t meant to be the first tournament we wrote up this week, but with the cast of characters at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open -- Roberta Vinci, Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Andrea Petkovic, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, and more -- how could we resist?
Vinci is at a career-high No. 15 in the world, earning her the No. 1 seed. But instead of the favorite, we’re casting her as the "Italian Maven on a Mission this week", trying to prove her runs at Wimbledon (fourth round) and the US Open (quarterfinals) weren’t flukes.
Venus ("She Who Plays When She Prefers") is in her first tournament since a thrilling second-round loss to Angelique Kerber at the U.S. Open. Jankovic ("The Pretty One"), now ranked No. 22, is trying to salvage a 31-27 effort this year. But the two Germans—Petko ("The Comeback Kid") and Lisicki ("Team Giggles") -- might want to win more than anyone this week: they’re a combined 3-10 in 13 matches. Let the cameras roll.
WTA (View Women's Draw): There is less ensuing drama in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup for the ladies, but no shortage of desperation a la Jankovic and Lisicki here this week. Sam Stosur, who was the top seed and heavy favorite in Osaka last week, managed to lose in the semifinals to a little-known player from Chinese Taipei, Kai-Chen Chang, ranked No. 134.
So this week should be all about Stosur (again atop the drawsheet), but the Australian has a penchant for blowing it when you least expect it. And unlike Osaka, she has some heavy competition to fend off: Marion Bartoli, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Caroline Wozniacki, and Nadia Petrova are all waiting in the wings.
For Stosur, Bartoli, Ivanovic and Wozniacki, playing this week in Moscow means no Istanbul (which starts next week!); none of these former season-ending competitors made the cut this year. Nothing like seeking salvation in the cold Moscow winter (cue inspiration: Anastasia).
ATP (View Men's Draw):The women (much to Janko Tipsarevic and Gilles Simon’s disappointment) might be the main attraction in Moscow this week as no man inside the top 20 have made the trek to wintry Russia. The dynamic and electric Alexandr Dolgopolov, ranked No. 21, is the No. 1 seed.
The storyline that most intrigues us in Russia this week is that of Alexander Bogolomov, Jr. If you remember a year ago, Bogolomov went back to the Russian Tennis Federation after growing up in and playing for the US for much of his career. He had a banner year in 2011, going 27-21 and reaching the quarterfinals here. But since switching his allegiance, it has been nothing short of a nightmare for the 29 year old, who has gone 13-29 this season and has fallen from a career high of No. 33 to No. 96 this week.
His reward in Moscow? No. 5 seed Nikolay Davydenko -- also a Russian.
VIENNA (View Draw)
There’s a refreshingly heavy amount of competition in Vienna this week at the Erste Bank Open which includes top seed Juan Martin del Potro, No. 2 Janko Tipsarevic, two-time champ (and hometown hero) Jurgen Melzer, comeback king Tommy Haas, and the always-entertaining duo of Ernests Gulbis and Xavier Malisse.
Del Potro and Tipsarevic are both almost a certain lock for the World Tour Finals in London, with the Argentine 7th and Janko 9th (factor in a pending Rafael Nadal withdrawal and Tipsy’s in).
Americans Jesse Levine and Donald Young are also in the Vienna draw this week.
STOCKHOLM (View Draw)
It’s hard not to love a tournament named the If Stockholm Open. (“If” what?) But the tennis should be anything but bad with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych leading the charge at this charming indoor event.
Nicolas Almagro, Marcos Baghdatis, Florian Mayer, and Feliciano Lopez are all also in as seeds. Lleyton Hewitt is a wildcard here and American Brian Baker is in action as well.
While Tsonga and Berdych are trying to lock down London finals spots as well, there is plenty that could unfold in Stockholm this week, including the continued comeback of Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils.
As tennis in Sweden has taken a major hit (a wildcard, Patrik Rosenholm, is ranked No. 436) with the prolonged absence of Robin Soderling (remember him?), two former Swedish players continue to bring the country its biggest event of the year: Thomas Johansson is tournament director and Jonas Bjorkman is marketing director.
(File Photo: Sam Stosur plays at the 2012 U.S. Open; Credit: Andy Kentla)