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Fans’ guide to the week ahead: April 6 2009

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 15:58

US Mens Clay Court Championships

When? April 6-12
Where? Houston, Texas, USA
Event type? ATP World Tour 250
Surface? Clay
Prize money? $500,000
ATP draw Size? 32 singles, 16 doubles
Defending champ? Marcel Granollers (SPA)

Big names? After a busy hard-court swing, the men will begin the grind of the clay-court season this week, starting in Houston, Texas. Marcel Granollers features as possible favourite as he is the 2008 titleholder after he defeated top seed James Blake last year. However it is set to be a tough draw for the Spaniard with two past champions Tommy Haas and Mardy Fish in the line-up. Tennishead Hot Stuff Jeremy Chardy, American Sam Querrey and top seed Blake will all be hoping to deliver on the dirt.

Sub-plots? Despite Blake being top seed, few would have him as favourite. He has been suffering to find any consistency in form recently with a miserly 9-6 win-loss 2009 match record. Since Blake made the semi-finals at San Jose in February, the Harvard graduate has only made the second round of subsequent events. Second-seeded Fish is perhaps a better bet as the world No.28 has already won one title (Delray Beach) and reached the final in San Jose this year.

Grand Prix Hassan II

When? April 6-12
Where? Casablanca, Morocco
Event type? ATP World Tour 250
Surface? Clay
Prize money? Eur 450,000
ATP draw Size? 32 singles, 16 doubles
Defending champs? Gilles Simon (FRA)

Big names? Igor Andreev is making his debut in Casablanca as top seed and the 25-year-old Russian is the winner of three clay ATP World Tour titles. He will need to fend off the likes of German Rainer Schuettler, Spanish world No.35 Albert Montanes and the French contingent of Florent Serra, Marc Gicquel and Arnaud Clement if he is to live up to his billing.

Sub Plots? Andreev has had a fairly mediocre 2009 season so far only reaching one quarter-final (in Dubai). The Russian has been struggling to find consistent form although it should be noted that the world No.22 thrives on a bit of clay-court action; eight of Andreevs nine final appearances have come on clay.

The MPS Group Championships

When? April 6-12
Where? Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA
Event type? WTA International
Surface? Green clay
Prize money? $220,000
ATP draw Size? 32 singles, 16 doubles
Defending champs? Maria Sharapova

Big names? There are a smattering of stars featuring in Florida this week with world No.10 Nadia Petrova at the top of the draw. Recent Pattaya City runner-up Sania Mirza is sure to be a strong contender while comeback kid Jelena Dokic, Dane Caroline Wozniacki and Austrian lefty Patty Schnyder are all staying in Florida after last weeks Premier event in Miami.

Sub plots? Top seed Petrovas form has been up and down since her comeback from meningitis during the off-season, so its Wozniacki who we fancy to have a good week after reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Indian Wells and Miami.

Andalucia Tennis Experience

When? April 6-12
Where? Marbella, Spain
Event type? WTA International
Surface? Red clay
Prize money? $500,000
ATP draw Size? 32 singles, 16 doubles
Defending champs? New event

Big names?
Some huge names will be in Spain this week for the first ever (and slightly bizarrely named) Andalucia Tennis Experience. World No.1 Serena Williams is down to make the trip to Europe but there are doubts over her participation due to a leg injury she was carrying during Saturdays Miami final. Jelena Jankovic and Amelie Mauresmo are among those expected to turn up, however, and will join an army of Spanish clay courters such as Anabel Medina Garrigues, Virginia Ruano Pascal and world No.35 Carla Suarez Navarro.

Sub plots?
With Williams doubtful to make the trip and Jankovic and Mauresmo up and down in terms of recent form, theres an opportunity for one of the games lesser-known stars to step up. Suarez-Navarro will especially be looking to make a name for herself on the red clay early on in the season after her shock defeat of Venus Williams at the Aussie Open in January.

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