In a variation on an old theme – what happens in February tennis, stays in February tennis.

The second month of the year is ephemeral in the grand scheme of the meandering annual calendar of the sport.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happens, and 2015 has definitely been proof of an entertaining time for the game.


There have been several examples of exciting tennis, including Andrea Petkovic saving eight match points (Alison Van Uytvanck) in the first round on her way to the title in Antwerp, Fabio Fognini saving three match points (Jiri Vesely) in the first round in Rio de Janeiro on his way to the final (David Ferrer) via a thriller 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 semifinal win over Rafael Nadal, and Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils duking it out in a series of cat-and-mouse rallies in a passionate Marseille final finally won 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4) by Simon in two hours and 29 minutes.


As the months roll by, it will soon be forgotten that Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic were not exactly at their stellar best in the only month with 28 days.

Bouchard went 0-1 (a loss to Mona Barthel in Antwerp) and Raonic was a modest 3-2 – a semifinal in Rotterdam before losing to Stan Wawrinka followed by a poor performance in a three-set loss to Simone Bolelli at his first hurdle in Marseille as top seed.

Bouchard is scheduled to return to tournament play in Monterrey, Mexico, next week leading into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells beginning on March 9.

Raonic, who will lead Canada against Japan in Davis Cup action in Vancouver next week from March 6-8, will also be in action in Indian Wells the following week.

It’s a little strange to examine the draw for this week’s ATP 500 event in Dubai. The top three players in the world – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – are entered, but there’s a steep drop-off from there. Between Murray at No. 3 and Feliciano Lopez at No. 13 – a career-high for the 33-year-old – there’s only one player, No. 8-ranked Tomas Berdych.

Part of the reason for that gap is that No. 5 Kei Nishikori, No. 9 David Ferrer and No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov (the defending champion) are playing the ATP 250 hard-court event in Acapulco going on at the same time.

Another ATP 250, the clay-court Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, features No. 4-ranked Nadal, who looked rusty at times in Rio de Janeiro last week, as its top seed. Seeded second is Nadal’s compatriot, No. 18-ranked Tommy Robredo.

There’s something similar happening with the women. Most of the big names are in the Premier Series event in Doha, Qatar – among them No. 4 Petra Kvitova, No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova.

But the biggest name – No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova – is the top seed at the lower-level International Series event in Acapulco. The drop off from there is dramatic – seeded No. 2 is No. 12 Sara Errani while the No. 3 seed is Caroline Garcia, ranked No. 30.

There are worse places to be than Acapulco in February, a month that will soon fade to oblivion, hopefully to be replaced by something more memorable by Canada’s top two players Bouchard and Raonic.

Catching Up With Peter Polansky


Peter Polansky has been out of action with an injury since last September. Tebbutt Tuesday caught upwith him on Monday and the 26-year-old talked about what he has been through the past six months.

“My (right) wrist actually started hurting in my first round of qualifying at the US Open,” he explained. “Then I kept playing through the qualifying and it kept getting progressively a little bit worse each match.

“In my last round of qualifying I had a really long match against Taro Daniel – about three hours and 15 minutes. In the last set, I started to feel it more and more on my forehand. By the end of the match it was kind of throbbing a little bit – it didn’t really affect my play with the adrenaline going and everything.

“It felt a little different but it wasn’t really hurting too bad. The next morning when I woke up in New York, my wrist was extremely stiff, I could barely bend it and it was a little bit painful. I knew right away something was wrong.

“I went to get an MRI that same day and the doctors from the tournament were saying it looks like inflammation, nothing serious, so I decided I’d stay around and see if I get in as a lucky loser. (He did not.)

“Then I took two weeks off…it was getting a little bit better.”


Polansky returned to play Challengers in California in September but said the wrist was still only like “60 or 70 per cent.” He withdrew from the Challenger in Tiburon and got another MRI (one with an injection) done at Stanford near where the tournament was played. It resulted in virtually the same diagnosis – a little bit of inflammation, possibly a very minimal tear in the cartilage, and rest was the doctor’s advice.

Two Toronto doctors more or less confirmed the same thing and Polansky wound up taking two whole months off – until late November.

He started training and then did some hitting in December in Florida. The pain was still there: “It wasn’t like I couldn’t hold the racquet,” he said. “I’d be practicing well but as soon as I’d get a shot where I was on the run, or a forehand that I really needed to go after, it would start to hurt. Every now and then it would hurt quite a bit. I couldn’t get that extra 15 or 20 per cent that I needed in my game.”

He wound up making a quick decision, on a Friday in December, to have surgery. When Toronto surgeon, Dr. Herb von Schroeder, told him he could do the operation on the following Monday, he decided to go ahead.

The surgery was on December 22 and, as Polansky described it, “basically it was a small tear in the cartilage. He just went in there to smooth it out a little bit, and that was it.”

Interview with Polansky:

Q: What’s the prognosis now?

PP: I was in a cast for seven weeks. The doctor gave me the option after four weeks if I wanted to leave it on a couple of more weeks or take it off and put it into a brace. But I thought that if three more weeks was going to let it heal better, then it’s better to do that. At that point, I’d already taken a protected ranking (approximately No. 160) and I think that kicked in the first week of April. So there’s not really a huge rush to get back.

I got the cast off a few weeks ago. It’s still in a brace right now because I’ve got to build up the strength. I’m expecting to start hitting in the next three weeks or so. Right now, I’m aiming for mid or end of April (Challengers in Florida) to get back.

Q: I guess it would have been better to get something done right after the US Open?

PP: Exactly, if I’d gone with my gut feeling, I would have got something done. Especially when I couldn’t bend my wrist the next morning, I knew that something was definitely off. It was a tough decision because all the doctors I was seeing said that basically I didn’t need the operation.

Q: Is that the first surgery you’d ever had – aside from when you hurt your legs in the fall in Mexico in 2006?

PP: I had my shoulder scoped in 2011 because I was having an issue and I couldn’t really figure it out. They didn’t go in and do any repairs, so that didn’t put me out for too long.


Q: You’re sort of middle-aged for a tennis player, does something like this make you reassess things?

PP: Maybe a little bit. Having some time off at home, you do start to think about it. I was actually thinking about how when you’re younger – like 18 to 24 – up until 24 you don’t really think of any other options. I think as you get older, it’s just automatic you start to think, “what am I going to do after tennis and those kinds of things?” But I’m still really motivated to get back. I really believe that I can do well and have a chance of being a top player. I’m still motivated by that.

Q: Did you think of anything you might do after tennis?

PP: I think coaching is always there for me. But also, a few years ago I started taking a few courses at Ryerson (University), just a program I got involved with through (former Tennis Canada consultant) Bob Brett and another guy who was helping me out. It was a business program that I started with doing a couple of courses to complete a certificate. This guy was developing a program to help athletes get involved in schooling when they’re on the road. I completed that certificate a few years ago and just kept on taking online courses every now and then – very minimal, one a semester. I enjoyed doing those. There’s always an option to teach, always an option to go back to school and complete that – something in the business area.

Q: When you see Filip Peliwo kind of struggling now, would you have any advice for him?

PP: I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of advice to give that would help someone like him. One thing I noticed with him, when he’s playing a big tournament with a big crowd, and there’s not really much pressure on him, he always steps up in those matches – like he did at the Rogers Cup and when I played him in Granby a couple of years (2013) ago, and we had a really good match there – a good crowd, good energy in the crowd. He was pumped up playing at home, and he was kind of the underdog. I think in those kinds of matches, he plays very well. But when I see some of the results he’s having in the Futures, it’s kind of shocking sometimes that he’s losing early. It’s kind of odd. Sometimes it just takes longer for each person to progress and maybe he’s going through one of those fazes. But obviously he’s talented and he can play well. It’s just a matter of if he’s able to pull his game together piece by piece and kind of solve the puzzle.

Now There Are Two


In his opening match at the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Monday, Mikhail Youzhny had a chance for a dubious honour. If he lost to Roger Federer he would join David Ferrer with a lifetime futility record of 0-16 against the great Swiss. Federer defeated Youzhny, who turns 33 in June, by a 6-3, 6-1 score.

Here are Federer’s current 10-0 (or better) records with the following players:

David Ferrer – 16-0

Mikhail Youzhny – 16-0

Jarkko Nieminen – 14-0

Feliciano Lopez – 11-0

In the past, including as recently as this year’s Australian Open when he lost to Andreas Seppi after 10 consecutive wins, five players have broken a 0-10 (or better) winless streak against Federer. They are:

Andreas Seppi: 0-10 – 2007-2015

Tommy Robredo: 0-10 – 2002-2013

Robin Soderling: 0-12 – 2004-2010

Nikolay Davydenko: 0-12 – 2003-2009

Fernando Gonzalez: 0-10 – 2004-2007

Federer is bidding for his seventh title in Dubai, where he has a residence.

Over the years, he has been asked innumerable questions about the seemingly endless milestones he continues to achieve. Here’s a nice obscure one for this week in Dubai – if he has 15 more aces, he will become only the fourth player to hit 9,000 aces in his career.

Here are the other three:

  1. Goran Ivanisevic – 10,183
  2. Ivo Karlovic – 9,322
  3. Andy Roddick – 9,074

This is what the 33-year-old Federer said about his return to action after a month off following his third-round loss to Seppi at the Australian Open: “Every tournament seems to want me there. It fills me with great joy. If you have something you really enjoy doing, why give that up? I feel I can still play with the best and when you win titles things get simpler again.”

Andy Brightens Up


Andy Murray has long been a rather dull ‘fifty shades of grey’ kind of guy on the court. It was nice to see him adding a more colourful look with his Under Armour gear for his opening round 6-4, 7-5 win over Gilles Muller in Dubai on Tuesday.

The Other Half of 21 Years

You don’t have to guess who this tweeter’s sister is – Beatrice and Genie turn 21 years old on Wednesday.

Actually, Beatrice turns 21 first – she’s six minutes older than her baby sister!