Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal appear to be on a much-anticipated early-season collision course in Doha this week as players begin their Australian Open preperation.

The two titans of tennis have rolled through the first two rounds of an otherwise top-heavy Doha draw. But things should get more interesting in the latter rounds as Federer now faces Ernests Gulbis and then maybe Nikolay Davydenko.

Nadal should have easier time with Steve Darcis tomorrow. But all eyes will be on a potential showdown come Saturday. What a match that would be to begin the new season.

In Brisbane, Andy Roddick is still alive but the real story is the return of one Justin Henin. The 27-year-old Henin has enjoyed two straight sets wins in her comeback – one over Top 10 Nadia Petrova – and all bets are she’ll meet her Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters in the finale. At least that’s what I think.

So right off the bat we may very have a couple compelling finales to begin this new decade!


Can you believe, the 2010 pro tennis season is starting in just about a week. The year kicks off with events in Abu Dhabi – an exo! – plus the Hopman Cup, Brisbane, Doha and I’m sure I left another out.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play in Abu Dhabi. I know Andy Roddick, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters are signed up for Brisbane, so that should be quite the event.

As for the off season, I guess not much of one if you are a top tennis player. Unlike his peers, Roddick actually had a few months off. I know he banged up his left knee in Shanghai, but consider the guy’s season ended in mid-October so he should be fresh for the upcoming New Year.

Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse are still under the gun of the ITF despite a court in their homeland overturning a previous one-year bans.

Both players were suspended for one-year on November 5 after the ITF ruled that each had missed three testing dates during the year.

Under the rules players are required to be tested at random points throughout the year, but in this case the players failed to make an appearance three times warranting such a suspension.

Now, however, that a Belgian court suspended the ITF”s decision, the players are now trying to get the ITF to allow them to compete in the Australian Open which is run by the ITF!

We know that Roger Federer and Tiger Woods have had somewhat of a friendship, so I wonder if the two have spoken at all in recent months.

And I wonder if Federer knew anything of Tiger’s promiscuity. After all the they did hang out at the US Open, appear at functions together and the do text each other.

It’s a long shot but as we have seen from the celebrities these days you never know.

Also, now that Tiger’s fallen so hard, is Roger still in contact with him or has he (at the behest of Mirka maybe!) ceased all communication with the golf star.

The ATP ruled this past week that the defunct Indianapolis tournament would be moved to Atlanta.

One has to wonder, does the summer ATP circuit really need a tournament in Atlanta? I say no. There are enough events as it is in the U.S. – I know the USTA who took a chunk of the tournament  will argue otherwise of course – and the players are already on the warpath of the schedule being too long.

Without Atlanta the tour would get a week off in the middle of July, and while it wouldn’t directly impact the length of the season, down the road in a few years perhaps that open week would get swallowed up allowing the summer to shrink by one overall week and maybe the tour ends a week earlier.

With Atlanta, it adds one more obstacle in the ATP’s effort to reduce the schedule. But young American and B-level players like Robby Ginepri, Kevin Kim, John Isner and James Blake have to be thrilled about having another chance to pick up ranking points.

I just wonder who many fans will want to see those guys play (sorry fans, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are not going to play!) in the sweltering mid-summer heat of Atlanta.