Monte Carlo and Fed Cup Week

Rafa returns, Roger is out, and Nole is questionable this week in Monte Carlo for the Rolex Masters. Opportunity for Andy Murray?

As promised, Roger Federer is taking-off the entire month of April, set to return next month. His red clay warm-up for Roland Garros will include the two Masters-1000 events in Madrid and Rome, then he’ll take a week to prepare in Paris before the French Open begins on May 27th.

After an impressive string of clay court wins already this year, Rafael Nadal will try for his 9th consecutive title in Monte Carlo this week. On clay in February, he made the final in Chile, then won both the Brazil and Mexico Opens. Off since his impressive win at Indian Wells last month, Rafa’s been resting his knee after a wildly successful return to the hard court.

Novak Djokovic has issues of his own, after injuring his ankle while clinching the Davis Cup Quarterfinal for Serbia over Sam Querrey and the United States. While Nole is in Monte Carlo, he still hasn’t committed to playing his opening match. He’s been training with his coach over the past several days, and is still on the schedule for a second-round match Wednesday.

Congrats to streaky John Isner who put together a great week of tennis at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston. He won the final yesterday over Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-5. It’s John’s 6th career title, and first of 2013. Both then had to hop the next flight to the French Riviera for this week’s event in Monte Carlo.

Meanwhile, in Casablanca, Spain’s Tommy Robredo earned his 11th career title with a 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3 win over Kevin Anderson in the final. An impressive win for Tommy, who’s seen his ranking slip to #72 over the past several years.

It’s Fed Cup Week for the ladies…In the World Group, Italy hosts a Semifinal with defending champions Czech Republic, while Russia hosts Slovak Republic.

Delray Beach, Florida hosts the US vs. Sweden World Group Playoff Tie this weekend, with matches on Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and Varvara Lepchenko vs. Sophia Arvidsson, Johanna Larsson, Hilda Melander and Sandra Roma. As usual, I’ll be there for ceremony narration and player introductions this weekend and look forward to returning to the Delray Beach Tennis Center. It’s been a few years!

Roberta Vinci was dominant on the clay last week at the BNP Paribas Katowice Open in Poland. In fact, consider the Final a warm-up for this weekend’s World Group Semifinal; she played Petra Kvitova and won it 7-6(2), 6-1. It’s her 8th WTA title, and the win moved her up to #12 in th world.

Roberta after the match: “Next is Fed Cup. I’m going to Palermo tomorrow and we’re playing the Czech Republic on the weekend, so I’ll probably play against Petra again pretty soon! But it’s a different story – Fed Cup is totally different. We’ll see what happens, but I’m playing in confidence and we’d like to win against the Czech Republic, so we’ll all be trying our best.”