No Prague finale for Team Bucie

When Bethanie Mattek-Sands had another surgery on her knee earlier this year, her goal was to be ready for the end of April – and to partner bestie Lucie Safarova one last time at the clay-court event in Prague.

Unfortunately, that won’t happen, as Mattek-Sands isn’t ready.

The American has just begun her on-court buildup, But Prague is only two weeks away.

Safarova, who is on the Czech Fed Cup team this week (bypassing the Stuttgart qualies to do so), will still play doubles.

She has re-entered the event with countrywoman Barbora Stefkova.

Kokkinakis still struggling to return

After struggling to get back on court since the Australian Open, Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis finally got there last week, at a Challenger in Barletta, Italy.

He defeated Italian teenager Giiulio Zeppieri in three sets. But he withdrew before his second second round against Gianluca Mager with the same right pectoral injury.

And, having been granted a wild card into Monte Carlo this week – an out of the box choice – he had to give that up, as well.

Last year, Kokkinakis ended up on crutches, injuring his knee in a collision with an on-court advertising sign there.

Slim pickings for Canadian Fed Cup tie

World No. 23 Bianca Andreescu is expected to lead the charge for the Canadians in an important Fed Cup tie against the Czechs in Prostejov.

But … who else will play?

Genie Bouchard’s status is unclear. She hasn’t played since losing in the first round of the Miami Open.

Françoise Abanda is out with a shoulder injury that has troubled her since January.

Rebecca Marino is about to play her fifth consecutive week in Japan. It would be asking a lot to quickly switch to clay in Europe, for her first Fed Cup singles tie since 2011.

Marino getting help from the sisterhood

Canadian Rebecca Marino, stuck in a ratings stall for the last seven months, produced her best effort in awhile in reaching the final of a $25,000 ITF event in Kashiwa, Japan last week.

She’s been getting help and support from a couple of female coaches as she tries to catch up, after a back injury essentially scuttled her off-season.

Former Bianca Andreescu coach Nathalie Tauziat was there for the first three weeks of her current five-week stint in Japan.

Last week and this week in Osaka, Marino has experienced Canadian coach Patricia Hy, a former top-30 player.

Marion Bartoli memoir out April 23

Marion Bartoli’s life – and her life in tennis – have been anything but uneventful.

So it’ll be fascinating to see the Frenchwoman’s perspective on it when her memoir (written with Géraldine Maillet) is released April 23.

It’s in French only. Our copy is on pre-order, and we’ll write a full review once we tear through it.

Bartoli plans to promote the book around Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Still only 34, she abruptly retired shortly after her bucket-list title at Wimbledon, nearly six years ago.

A brief comeback attempt last year fizzled quickly, basically before it even began.

Four lucky losers in Bogotá

The WTA clay-court tournament in Bogotá, Colombia is in a tough part of the season, in a tough place to get to.

And this year, its field has been decimated even though the entry deadline was cut to three weeks instead of the usual six.

In addition to those who pulled out earlier (including Genie Bouchard for the second straight year), four more withdrew after the draw.

That included No. 2 seed Petra Martic (left thigh) and No. 3 seed Tatjana Maria (lower back). Also out are Zarina Diyas and Ivana Jorovic.

There is now a … No. 11 seed. 

Roland Garros only Slam left with 96Q

It’s not news, but it’s certainly worth noting as the clay-court season is upon us.

The Australian Open expanded its women’s qualifying draw to 128 from 96 this year. And Wimbledon intends to do the same. So the French Open is the only remaining Grand Slam where the women’s draw is smaller than the men’s.

You’d think they’d want to add four wild cards to the women’s draw, which has 12 of them compared to 16 for the men’s.

Meanwhile, Court Philippe Chatrier will have – wait for it! – a spider cam this year.

Hopefully no issues, as there were in Australia.

Bouchard taking break to “get healthy”

Genie Bouchard, eliminated quickly at both Indian Wells and Miami, is taking a break of undetermined length.

She withdrew from Monterrey this week, and Bógota, Colombia next week.

But Bouchard also hasn’t entered the Madrid, or Rome main draws, or any of the smaller spring clay tournaments – although the deadline for Strasbourg isn’t until Monday.

Sources tell Tennis.Life that Bouchard, currently in Montreal spending time with her father and siblings, is taking a break “to get healthy.”

Meanwhile, Coach Michael Joyce – in limbo along with trainer Scott Byrnes – is in the U.K., doing some clinics and appearances.

Svetlana Kuznetsova ready to return?

Svetlana Kuznetsova, out of action since last September nursing wrist and knee issues, has been in Barcelona training on clay for a week.

Russian journalist Ilya Ryvlin reports she hopes to play Lugano next week. Not entered, she would need a wild card.

Currently ranked No. 111, a protected ranking would only be slightly higher than that as she’s lost little ground in the rankings during her time away.

Here’s a recent interview that has … a lot of interesting insight.

Kuznetsova is officially entered in Madrid (main draw only), the Rome qualifying and … the French Open.

Charleston entries a crazy mess

If you wanted a snapshot of the disconnect in the tournament entry system these days, just look at Charleston this week.

It’s a Premier – and a great event. But there were 14 withdrawals from the original 43-player list including Barty, Hsieh, Andreescu and – on Monday – Alizé Cornet.

The qualifying included eight doubles specialists: Aoyama (No. 627 in singles), Melichar (689), Spears (852), and Rosolska, Klepac, Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok, Marozava and Jurak (no ranking).

Players who didn’t make the qualifying at the ITF in Palm Harbor, Fla. this week would have made it in ($710 to lose first round).

That makes no sense.