It was a weekend of surprises. Agnieszka Radwanska battered down some erstwhile WTA No. 1s -- all of them Grand Slam-less, mind you, including Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka -- to win the Tokyo title. Janko Tipsarevic punched through to win his first ATP Tour title in five tries and, most stunning of all, but in a good way, Donald Young Jr. made the final at Bangkok.
The only predictable element of the weekend was Andy Murray's triumph over Young, although that 6-2, 6-0 score had to make you wince. I guess Murray is getting a little bit tired of young Donald nipping at his heels. This was their third meeting of the year, and Young's win over ATP No. 4 Murray at Indian Wells was not only a painful blow to the ego of the then-swooning Scot, but it also helped launch the resurgence (if that word can be used to describe the career of a mere 22-year-old) that has vaulted Young up to No. 43.
They might have called this one "Microcosm Weekend," because it seemed to put the present, different nature of the two tours into sharp and accurate perspective. On the men's side, the big four (working bottom to top in the rankings: Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and No. 1 Novak Djokovic) do an excellent job hogging the glory (and beating up on each other) whenever they enter a tournament.
Thankfully, that's often. One or another of them is usually around to play sheriff when the cowpunchers get a little bit too rowdy. So though it's nice to see a popular guy like Marcos Baghdatis get back into the limelight (as a finalist in Kuala Lumpur) and to witness Tipsarevic, the poor man's Novak Djokovic, grab that maiden ATP Tour win there, it's even more comforting to get a good sense of just where they fit in the pecking order.
The contrast with the WTA situation is instructive. The big takeaway from Tokyo is that it's just like the ATP -- or would be, if you locked Djokovic up in a tower, shackled Nadal to the mast of a ship, buried Federer in sand up to his chin and marooned Murray on a desert island.
Serena Williams is frequently out of commission, and despite legitimate injuries, she knows she can play as much or little as she wants and get away with it. Justine Henin is so long gone she may as well be locked up in a tower. Kim Clijsters is injured (or on a hiatus, or a paid leave, or a sabbatical ... whatever). Fashionista Maria Sharapova has never been accused of cross-dressing, but she may be the Andy Murray in this WTA crowd.
Give Sharapova credit: She's the only one in the WTA quartet cited above (loosely, they comprise a generation) who is out there plugging away on a daily basis. If she hadn't gone down with an ankle injury in Tokyo, she might have asserted her authority and positioned herself even more favorably to unseat Caroline Wozniacki -- one of the weakest No. 1 players the WTA has ever produced.
But even with Sharapova down, neither Wozniacki, nor No. 3 Victoria Azarenka, nor 2010's two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva, nor U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur, nor Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, nor former No. 1s Jelena Jankovic or Ana Ivanovic -- all of them and more, including former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, were entered in Tokyo -- was able to (wo)man up and win this Tokyo thing. The title went to No. 13 Radwanska.
A little unpredictability is a good thing. A lot of it merely spells C-H-A-O-S.