The calm before the storm, the US Men's Clay Court Championships crown an Argentinian, and a Spainiard wins in Morroco. The Monte Carlo Masters begin today, and it's much more meaningful than in previous years. It's Fed Cup week for the women. Does anyone care? Nope, didn't think so. Click Read More to get your Weekly Wild Card
-In Houston, the only clay court on the ATP World Tour within the United States, Juan Monaco, who is suddenly hot, defeated John Isner in three sets to take the title. It's a solid, if not incredibly important, win for him. The win over Isner in the final was solid, and the most positive sign for the Argentinian has to be his return. Going into Monte Carlo and beyond, look for Monaco to continue to make a push. The trend has been in recent years for older players (Monaco is 28) to make a huge push late in their careers for a very short time. It'll be interesting to see how high he can get. See: Fish, Mardy.
- Speaking of Fish, he continued his descent last week, losing meekly to career journeyman Michael Russell. His coach blamed it on extreme fatigue, which, surprisingly, I buy. Fish has played a ton the last year to get his ranking as high as number 8. It makes sense that he would be exhausted, but it's still a shame to see. He needs to take some time off, get it together, and come back strong. He lost his position as US number one last week as well, which would help him by taking some of the pressure off
- Moving to the new new US number one, John Isner continued his run of form in Houston, going all of the way to the final, losing to Monaco in three sets. Losing to Monaco on clay in three sets is not embarassing by any means, but as the new number one American and world number 11, you'd hope he could win his home clay tournament. A troubling sign for Inser though, he did look tired throughout most of the tournament, and so it's a very good idea for him to skip Monte Carlo. There's really no reason for him to play right now in the state that he's in. I think it's the right move for him. It'll be very interesting to see if he's plateaud, or if he can still climb up the rankings.
-In other American news, Ryan Harrison continued his uneven rise. He lost to Michael Russell in the second round after defeating the number seven seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. It's typical of Harrison. A great win over a seeded player is followed up by a solid straight set win then followed by a puzzling loss to someone he should beat.
-Your feel-good story of the week. Michael Russell, age 33 and perennial journeyman, reached his first ATP World Tour semifinal, defeating Fish 6-3, 6-1, and then Harrison before succombing to Monaco is three tough sets. It was great to see, and hopefully he can stick around the tour for a little more while.
- Onto the women. Caroline Wozniacki lost in the final of her home tournament in Denmark to German Anligique Kerber. Germans beating Danes in Denmark? Party like it's 1864. Sorry, had to throw that one in there. Does this tournament matter? No. It's on indoor hard courts before the outdoor clay court season begins. It's just ranking points and money.
- The Fed Cup semifinals are this week. Russia vs Serbia and the Czechs vs. Italy. There aren't that many interesting storylines here, unfortunately. I'll go with Russia and the Czech Republic. Russia is too deep and the Czechs have Petra Kvitova. Enough said.
- We'll have a preview up of Monte Carlo later today. It should be a really interesting tournament
-Enjoy the tennis, everyone. It's all on espn3.