Clay-court season is upon us. Before the Masters 1000 series, Casablanca and Houston were the opening party for the men. For the ladies, Copenhagen and Barcelona held some surprises in store. Casablanca, Andujar is...

Clay-court season is upon us. Before the Masters 1000 series, Casablanca and Houston were the opening party for the men. For the ladies, Copenhagen and Barcelona held some surprises in store.

Casablanca, Andujar is the boss

Casablanca has had some prestigious past winners (Gilles Simon, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Juan-Carlos Ferrero and Stanislas Wawrinka). So, we were expecting a familiar face this year. Except that the N°1 seed, Germany’s Florian Mayer, is only ranked 20th in the world and was beaten even before the quarter-finals by the Frenchman Jeremy Chardy (6-3, 6-1). However, the Moroccan tournament couldn’t be wrested from Spanish hands. With four Spaniards in the quarter-finals, it ended up a 100% Iberian final between Albert Ramos (#7 seed) and Pablo Andujar (#3 seed). Andujar, the title holder, finally won in a match interrupted several times by heavy rain. After 1h46 on-court, Andujar prevailed 6-1 7-5 to retain his title after a week on Moroccan soil. Albert Ramos, playing in his first final, got off to a very slow start, allowing the player ranked 58th in the world to be the first player to win twice in Casablanca since Guillermo Pérez-Roldán, winner in 1992 and 1993.  

Tweet of the week

Oh no..... Food poisoning. :( well at least its and instant 3 to 5 pound loss. #positivethinking #glasshalffull Life. @serenawilliams  // 13 Apr Serena Williams is an athletic woman. Some might say she is a bit… plump. And this week, the ex-world number 1 was babbling about some food poisoning that would have an advantageous side-effect… She could lose 1 to 2 kilos. What luck!  

Copenhagen, Wozniacki no longer Queen in her country

The 3rd eBoks Open in Copenhagen. Playing at home, in a tournament she had won for the last two years, a victory for ex-world number one Caroline Wozniacki seemed assured. Up to the final, the gorgeous blonde, a Liverpool fan, had had nothing to worry about. You just had to look at her quarter-final, dealt with in two forehands and four backhands (6-0, 6-3) against Alizée Cornet. Except that, in the final, the Dane was overcome by the number 2 seed, the German Angelique Kerber. A tight affair (1h38 6-4, 6-4), in which Kerber managed to break the serve of her opponent each time it was needed. A break in each set, solid baseline play and a great left hand: the ideal cocktail to gift-wrap her second tournament victory of the season – and her career – after the GDF Suez Open in February. World number 15, the German is moving quickly towards the top 10. The tournament was also a chance to see Jelena Jankovic (20th in the rankings) in good form; the former world number 1 managing to get into the last 4 before be swept away by the eventual winner (6-2, 6-1)  


The WTA ranking of Venus Williams. Stuck between Johanna Larsson and Lucie Hradecka, Venus is not happy. Not cool for a cat who already has seven Grand Slam wins to her name.


Barcelona: Sara Errani harvests another title on the red dirt

Nine matches unbeaten and two tournament victories in under a month for the Italian, Sara Errani. After her brilliant victory in Acapulco, Mexico, at the beginning of March, the number 7 seed took the Barcelona Ladies Open (with a $220,000 prize fund) after dominating the number 3 seed, and world number 17, Dominika Cibulkova in two sets and after a little over an hour of play (6-2 6-2). A few days short of her 25th birthday, the Italian won her fourth tournament on the pro tour (Portoroz 2007, Palermo 2008, Acapulco and Barcelona 2012) in her seventh final. A more talented doubles player, the world number 33 continues her run in singles play. Coming back to the Catalan tournament, Errani produced a magnificent performance in her quarter-final, easily besting the number 2 seed, the German Julia Goerges, conceding only five matches on her way to a 6-2 6-3 victory. Rounding off a great week for Italian, she and her doubles partner, Roberta Vinci, also won the doubles title, seeing off another Italian duo, Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone 6-0 6-2 in the final.  


10 years ago Richard Gasquet, at 15 years old, won his first professional match at the Monte Carlo Masters, beating Franco Squillari (then ranked number 54 in the world) and becoming the youngest player (15 years and 10 months) to win a Masters Series match.  

Houston, Isner has a problem

Brilliant against France in the Davis Cup, the American John Isner was hoping to win his first tournament of year at Houston (prize money: 442,000 USD). A competition he came into as number 2 seed. However, the giant American is going to have to wait a little longer before getting his hands on a trophy. In the final, Isner was beaten by Juan Monaco, the 4th seed, in 2hours and 27 minutes (6-2, 3-6, 6-3). An impressive feat, even more so as Monaco was able to twice break the serve of the ace machine in the first round to set up victory in three sets. For Isner, it was his second loss in a final this year following Indian Wells. Despite this defeat, on Monday he moved up from 10th to 9th in the world rankings, and will become American number 1 ahead of Mardy Fish following Fish’s disappointing performance in Texas, going out in the last-16 to Michael Russell, a 33-year old qualifier ranked 136th in the world.  

The announcement

« I tried every trick not to cry, but none of them worked ». These are the words of Ivan Ljubicic. At 33, the age of Jesus Christ, the Croatian decided to call it a day and bring the curtain down on a career that saw a Davis Cup victory in 2005, a doubles bronze-medal at the 2004 Olympics, 10 tournament victories including the 2010 Indian Wells Masters and a career-high ranking of number 3 in the world. Unfortunately for him, his final match was not pleasant, a crushing 6-0 6-3 defeat to his fellow Croatian, Ivan Dodig.  

Who after Guy Forget ?

Captain of the French Davis Cup team since 1999, Guy Forget has stepped down following the team’s defeat at the hands of the USA in Monte Carlo in the quarter-finals of the 2012 competition. Since then, French tennis has been searching for a new boss. The lucky winner will only be announced in September, but some names are already be put forward: Cédric Pioline, Arnaud Clément, Sébastien Grosjean, Nicolas Escudé, Henri Leconte. One thing is certain; the process for choosing a captain will change too. Jean Gachassin, President of the French Tennis Federation, told l’Equipe this week: “Everything is going to change, for the women and the men. After talks at the Federation, we are going to establish a captain’s profile that should express certain values. The captain will have to be someone with experience in playing Davis Cup tennis, who knows how it works and who, above all, is a leader. The Federation will then draw up a short-list. The players will draw up their own and we will get round a table, players, the National Technical Director, the Men’s High-Performance Director… The players alone will not make the decision.” A true Tennis Commission.   By Mathieu Faure