The Last Word – Dec. 11, 2013

The French Tennis Federation has allocated its two reciprocal wild cards for next month’s Australian Open.

And the winners are somewhat of a surprise.

Paul-Henri Mathieu

Paulo finds himself out of wild-card luck

The women’s pass goes to Pauline Parmentier (perhaps not such a shocker, although France has plenty of young female players).

But it’s not a consistent theme; the men’s wild card has been awarded to Lucas Pouille, a 19-year-old currently ranked No. 203.

That means veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu will have to go through qualifying. And another veteran – and a player who has provided distinguished service for his country in Davis Cup – Michaël Llodra, may have to do the same.

The Magnificent one© may get straight in; he’s only a few spots out as he starts the final campaign of his career. But it would be surprising to see him go through qualifying.

Pouille had a nice rise in 2013; he began the season ranked No. 431. Definitely a youth movement although Parmentier, who turns 28 a few days after the end of the Australian Open, doesn’t really qualify for that on the women’s side. Her career best was No. 40 back in 2008; she’s currently ranked No. 232 after struggling with a shoulder injury much of the year.

Exho of the day

In Anvers, Belgium (new mom Kim Clijsters took part in some doubles), home girl Kirsten Flipkens defeated Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-3, [10-7].

Ivanovic - FlipkensClijsters teamed up with Xavier Malisse (with whom she once played mixed at Wimbledon) to defeat Flipkens and Henri Leconte 7-5, 6-2.

(Pic from Ivanovic’s Instagram)

In Caën, France, in an exhibition with more of a tournament setup, fellow Belgian David Goffin (who had defeated Michaël Llodra and Pablo Andujar (stepping in for Benoît Paire) in straight sets in the previous two rounds), defeated Richard Gasquet 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the final.

Gasquet had been parachuted straight into the semis, where he defeated Nicolas Mahut 7-5, 6-4.

Suárez Navarro and her elbow

Top Spanish female player Carla Suárez Navarro Tweeted this pic from her hospital bed today.

Carla Suarez Navarro

From the bandages around the elbow, it’s obvious that was the focus.

From what we can gather she didn’t actually have elbow surgery; but it was some sort of exploratory test.

So obviously there’s an issue; Suárez Navarro had surgery on that elbow in the spring of 2011.

Friends join Rafa in Buenos Aires

It obviously took a fair bit of coin for the Copa Claro event in Buenos Aires, Argentina in February to get Rafael Nadal to come and play.

Enough, that last year’s finalists David Ferrer and Stan Wawrinka have taken a pass.

Completely gratuitous Monáco pic.

Completely gratuitous Monáco pic.

But the tournament announced Wednesday that Argentine Juan Monáco and Nadal’s countryman, Tommy Robredo, have been added to the roster.


Pearlman talks to James Blake

James Blake

Illuminating interview with James Blake from writer Jeff Pearlman.

A little hair product overzealousness

Here’s Roger Federer in a promo for his highly-anticipated debut in the Aussie Open warmup event in Brisbane.

Roger Federer hair

We’re not sure what’s up with the hair.

Today’s DelPo treat

Juan Martin del Potro practices his overheads with one of his tryout racquets.

Delpotrainingshot3dec11 delpotroDec11-2

(Pics courtesy of Andy Eidman)

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