STUART FRASER

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TALKING BALLS 006 Ė MONDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2009
By Stuart Fraser

British juniors showing yet more promise

A shorter edition of Talking Balls this week due to a relatively quiet week in the tennis world and we start with a special mention for Great Britainís juniors who reached the final of the Junior Davis Cup in Mexico last week.

Itís the first time the Brits have reached the final but sadly, they were defeated by Australia in the deciding doubles rubber.  A fantastic effort though by Andrew Bettles, Oliver Golding and George Morgan who are all 16-years-old.  The LTA often speak of a bright future and who am I to argue after these three talented youngsters performed so well in the South American heat last week.

Ironic that two grand slam hosting nations who have been criticised for their lack of top level world class players in recent times reached the final.  Itís an event that has played host to top players in the past, including Rafael Nadal, and letís hope from a British point of view that itís a sign of things to come.

Talking of the future, all the best to Heather Watson who announced today that she is to turn professional by the end of the year.  Big things are expected of the 17-year-old Junior US Open winner in the tennis world and letís hope she has a smooth transition into becoming a full time pro on the circuit.

Heather is actually competing in an AEGON Pro-Series event in Barnstaple this week along with Laura Robson.  Both will play fellow Brits in the first round with Robson playing Naomi Cavaday whilst Watson has a tough first round match against 2nd seed Melanie South.  With there being a lot of talk about Watson and Robson in terms of the future, it will be interesting to see how they perform in the south of England this week.

Has Murray recovered?

At the time of writing, we still havenít heard if Andy Murray has recovered from his wrist injury in time to compete in the Shanghai Masters next week.  The British media awaits with baited breath to see if they will be making the trip to Asia to see Murray in action with visas, flights, hotels and broadcast lines all on hold according to the 5livetennis Twitter feed.

Iím sure the right decision will be made in terms of Murrayís long-term future and a wrist injury for a tennis player is something that needs to be carefully monitored.  Although we hear that itís not as bad as the injury he suffered in 2007 which saw him miss around three months of action, itís enough to have forced him out of this weekís Japan Open in Tokyo.

Murray fully committed to the Davis Cup tie against Poland playing three matches in three days through the pain barrier which was admirable but will this contribute to a possible fall in the rankings over the coming weeks?  If the Scot withdraws from Shanghai, then it leaves only three events to defend his many ranking points accumulated towards the end of 2008.  All are in November with the Valencia Open 500 at the start of the month, followed by the Paris Masters then the ATP World Tour Finals in London.  Should be a very interesting finish to the season!

More shocks in the womenís game

The womenís game continues to deliver the shocks with Dinara Safina and Venus Williams both suffering shock defeats at the second round stage of the China Open today.

Safina is still having problems with her serve and 12 double faults contributed to a straight sets defeat by local wild card Zhang Shuai.  The Russian reportedly left the court in tears and it appears she is about to lose her world No.1 ranking as a second round win for Serena Williams will be enough to see her reclaim the top spot.

Itís amazing how someone at the top of the game can struggle so much with her serving.  As an amateur player of not too great a standard, I appreciate how difficult it can be to consistently maintain a high serve percentage but there is no denying that a player of her level should not be making 12 double faults in a two set match.

Having seen her coach Zeljko Krajanís face whilst watching courtside on several occasions, Iím surprised he has any hair left!

Jamie Baker interview well worth a listen

You may remember last week that I spoke about the return to form of Jamie Baker in Australia.  His recent excellent run of form sees him return to the top 500 today at No.456.

It was great to hear Jamie on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday morning speaking about his recent performances and his aspirations to reach the top 100.  Very positive stuff and itís an interview well worth a listen if you get the chance.

Itís available on the BBC iPlayer on Sports Weekly and comes just after the half hour mark.