April 4, 2012

Separated at Birth -- American Masters Edition

It's been a while since I posted one of these, but after about a month of watching the sport's biggest -- and not so big -- stars slug it out on the U.S. hard courts, I was once again struck by some uncanny resemblances. Some players who've never spent a lot of time in the spotlight and others who've been largely overshadowed by some harder-hitting colleagues emerged in both Indian Wells and Miami during March. And if you were just a cursory spectator, you might have mistaken them from some much more familiar faces.

Over at the BNP Paribas Open, young Christina McHale continued her coming out party with a solid come-from-behind defeat of reigning Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova. It wasn't her first top-five victory, but at such a big tournament, seeded at a Premier event for the first time, it was a notable accomplishment. She should get herself for ready all sorts of attention to come her way -- similar to her doppelganger, who may be working her own way onto a tennis court someday.

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Bethenny Frankel

Thomaz Bellucci has had his time in the upper echelons of the sport, nearly cracking the top twenty just two years ago. But some disappointing results during subsequent clay court seasons knocked him down the rankings. He started to turn things around in the California desert, beating Jurgen Melzer, fresh off a title in Memphis, and taking Roger Federer to three sets before ultimately succumbing. Still, his star may be back on the rise, like his would-be twin, Smash star Raza Jaffrey.

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) vs. Raza Jaffrey

Twenty-year old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov had a similar run a few weeks later in Miami, notching wins over Juan Ignacio Chela and Tomas Berdych on his way to the fourth round. He's still far from reaching the top of the sport -- he's still several positions off his own career-best ranking. But if he keeps up his level of play, he could get back there. And hopefully this time he won't say "Bye, Bye, Bye" to it so quickly.*

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Justin Timberlake

Agnieszka Radwanska has become a staple during the latter rounds of tournaments recently, and with her rise to #4 in the world she promises to become an ever-growing presence on Tour. People may have only begun to take notice of her after that title run in Miami, her biggest trophy to date, but truth is Aggie's been a Grand Slam champion on the Juniors' circuit since 2005 -- not unlike her near-mirror image, who made her breakthrough at age six in the classic E.T.

Aggie Radwanska (POL) vs. Drew Barrymore

Sure, like the celebs, not all these athletes' stars will shine with the same brightness, or for the same length of time. But it certainly seems like we'll have to get more used to them hanging around the biggest events. And hopefully they'll continue to play like they have the past month -- no one wants to see these guys fall from grace.

If you want to share your favorite tennis look-alikes, send me a note, and be sure to check out my other "Separated at Birth" pairs here!

* Yes, I know that was bad. Sorry!

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