May 21, 2009

Round and Round We Go

Somewhere in Germany a tournament very similar to Davis Cup is being contested this week. Eight teams organized by country are vying in the ARAG ATP World Team Champions, and while ranking points may not be on the line, national pride surely is.

The tournament is organized similar to the year-end finals, with a Red Group and a Blue Group, in which four countries play in a Round Robin format. Last year's champion Sweden faced France, Germany and the U.S. while runner-up Russia battled Italy, Serbia and Argentina in the other half.

Over the course of the last few days there have been, of course, several big upsets, and some surprising outcomes. France, led by world #7 Gilles Simon and #9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is so far down 0-2, while Sweden, on the strength of Robin Soderling and Andreas Vinciguerra, is up by the same margin. Argentina -- with #5 Juan Martin Del Potro on its team -- fell to Serbia but leads Italy -- which beat Russia who, in turn, is losing to Serbia.


Sweden might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of tennis powerhouses -- Soderling is ranked twenty-fifth in the world, but after that the next Swede doesn't show up until Thomas Johansson at #194. But apparently, Dusseldorf is the stage in which the country likes to shine -- last year Soderling swept his singles and doubles matches, and could repeat the feat in 2009. And so far, they're primed to head into the finals again.

We'll see if luck -- and skill -- stays with them through the week. And until then, it will certainly be an exciting fight for the trophy!

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