Thomas Muster is, well, an unusual tennis dude. Wasn't it just a few months ago that there was word that Muster, the former Roland Garros champion and acclaimed "King of Clay", was launching a men's fragrance? (Your first reaction probably was the same as mine: What's it called, Eau de Sweat? . . . Grunt! . . . Essence de Wet Sock?)
That little enterprise seems to have gone by the boards, but according to Muster's website you can still purchase "Tom's Eyewear" and "Tom's Wine." I don't know when Tom went all fashionista, but it had to be sometime after he abandoned his post-career adopted home of Australia and returned to Austria. Down Under, Thomas was said to have spent hour-after-hour, day-after-day, winding out dirt bikes on his private moto-cross course. He also must have put in a fair amount of hard time at local tavern, because he ballooned out to what looked to be 210, 220 pounds.
Muster, 42, is again fit and back trying to play competitive tennis, but not on the Champion's (senior) Tour. He's taking a shot at the ATP level. He's played two Challenger-level events thus far, losing his first-round match in both. You've got to respect the guy; he sure knows the meaning of the exhortation, If you're gonna go, go Big!
My advice to Muster: consult Kimiko Date Krumm. She may have some pointers for you.
—Speaking of which: You've got to wonder how much worse things can get for Dinara Safina. Yesterday, she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska at the Mercury Insurance Open (San Diego). It's not a horrible loss at face value, but for the numbers: 6-1, 6-3. That suggests that Safina was never even in it. And that's a bad thing, because most players on the comeback trail get to the point where they're competitive pretty quickly (at least in their peer group). The big hump to navigate usually is winning those 5-5 sets, or holding serve when you're at a set apiece and even on serve, 4-5. I mean, what on earth would happen if Safina found herself in a close match?
Safina had a decent Australian Open (she retired with a bad back during her fourth-round match with Maria Kirilenko), but since then she's been plagued by back problems and competition-related frustrations (the relationship between those two conditions being very difficult to ascertain beyond knowing that nobody enjoys playing hurt, nor achieves a whole lot). Safina hasn't won a match since her "quarterfinal" finish in Stuttgart. I put the round in quotes because in actuality, Safina played just one match before she lost at that tournament (she beat Agnes Szavay).
After Stuttgart, Safina lost five consecutive first-rounders, including two to our player du jour, Date Krumm, a married Japanese lady who's soon turning 40. They were Safina's most competitive matches, both three setters. Given that Date Krumm is now 3-0 against former No. 1 Safina, does this make Date Krumm a candidate for GOAT-hood?
At San Diego this week, Safina managed to collect a win over Alona Bondarenko, but then fell to Radwanska. So much for traction. Again, the losses are less disturbing than the ease with which they appear to have been inflicted.
—The result that caught my eye from the Legg Mason Tennis Classic (Washington) was Marco Chiudinelli 's 70-minute 6-1, 6-3 win over Radek Stepanek, who was looking for his first W since March (he's been out injured). He was married a few weeks ago to former No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova. We all know Vaidisova's story; let's hope that whatever ailed her before her abrupt retirement earlier this year isn't communicable.
—Also in Washington: It sure must have tasted like sweet revenge when Janko Tipsarevic eliminated Sam Querrey yesterday. Last week in Los Angeles, Tipsarevic had a match point against Querrey in the semifinals, but Sam slipped the noose. To add insult to injury, Tipsarevic was the ace machine in this encounter, coughing up 16 of them—pretty good for a 78-minute match ending 7-6 (3), 6-3.
—Did anyone else notice that the name of the Copenhagen WTA event is the E-Boks Sony Ericsson Open? It's an unfortunate sounding name. What is E-boks, anyway, Denmark's domestic e-book publisher? Knock off Reebok athletic shoes, made in some mysterious southeast Asian factory? Well, from what I can make out, E-boks appears to be some sort of computing services provider, something like our own Typepad (you can try to figure out yourself at their homepage). All I know is that Caroline Wozniacki appears to be blogging under their flag, and that when I read Sony Ericsson I think of Miami.
And that Klara Zakopalova is on fire in Copenhagen, and that's good enough to earn her bold-face placement in today's news of the day.