While Justine Henin amped up her game in the third set to edge out Sam Stosur in the finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart today, many of the top players in the WTA prepared for opening round action at the Italian Open. With Henin not playing in Rome and Stosur a last minute withdrawal from the event, it gives the rest of the field a chance to find their games and perhaps a little confidence as the French Open looms. And yes, we will finally see Serena Williams appear on a tennis court after last watching her late January in Melbourne. But how she plays this week could have an impact far into the rest of the year. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Dinara Safina
A word of warning to WTA pros. When the tournament you play at asks you to do promo work before the event starts, think twice before saying yes. I mention this as Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who all took time out to pose on the Porsche race track prior to the start of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix all fell in early round matches. Meanwhile, Dinara Safina made a triumphant return while Justine Henin didn’t let a broke pinky derail her chances to win her first event after returning to the tour. Continue reading
The whereabouts and health of former world No. 1 Dinara Safina have finally been answered by the Russian star herself in a new blog post on her recently updated official website. According to Safina, she is recovering and rehabing in Croatia and slowly on her way back to the practice courts. Someone who has received a degree from one of the sports medicine schools should be able to help her get back to the practice courts even sooner.
Safina goes into specific detail about her injury which has prevented her from playing since her retirement in her fourth round match to Maria Kirilenko at this year’s Australian Open. She writes, “My injury from Australia was pretty bad and takes so long to heal. The problem is that I had it since Cincinnati last year, Continue reading
Each Grand Slam has its own style and flavor and although this year’s AO lacked the drama of the ’09 U.S. Open, its best moments could be summed up in the well-worn phrase “mind over body.” I say that because a lot of the matches came down to how well players dealt with personal injuries through mental focus. And even if a player wasn’t ailing, some will wish they had had a checkup with a local shrink before stepping onto the Melbourne grounds.
With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to send out my wish list for what I like to see changed or improved for both the WTA and ATP tours in 2010.
Don’t Believe the Hype.
At the beginning of the year, way, way too much hype and expectation was heaped upon the shoulders of both Andy Murray, because of his U.S. Open Finalist run, and Dinara Safina because she somehow found herself at No. 1 by just being consistent in 2008. Murray responded to the buzz by having a decent year, but nothing to suggest he could challenge for No. 1. Safina meanwhile started her “misery tour” losing badly to Serena in Australia, choking her way through the French Open final and then collapsing in the third round in New York.
I’m not blaming either player for being unable to live up to the hype, but my wish for next year is that both tours and the media learn that overhyping new players in the hopes it will translate into actual results doesn’t work.
Speed Up The Challenge System.
The challenge system has helped the game a great deal. But what hurts the game is how players abuse the system. The following scenario occurs at least once a match. A call is made, a player, instead of immediately challenging the call, will ask the umpire, “What do you think?” The umpire might stand by the call or say it’s worth a look. Then the player will think some more and then finally challenge.
Players should have five seconds to challenge or cede the point. That’s it. Allowing players to get into conversations with the umpire or going up to have a look at the “mark” (especially on a hard court) is a waste of everybody’s time.
“Private Life, Drama Baby Keep Me Out” – The Pretenders
Usually the end of the season is normally a quiet time. That wasn’t the case this year which started with the Serena Williams meltdown, Andre Agassi’s meth use admission, the Stockholm Open sex scandal, and the doping ban (now lifted) of Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. Add in that we’re still waiting to hear if Richard Gasquet will suffer anymore fines or bans due to his “cocaine kiss” and we can all agree that we hope 2010 keeps the focus on-court and not off-court.
Player Wish List.
And now a few wishes for individual players:
Dinara Safina: Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope that you focus more on winning a Slam this year than trying to be No.1 again.
Jelena Jankovic/Elena Dementieva: Figure out a way to finally win a Slam soon or else you both run the risk of being the biggest “bridemaids” of your generation.
Venus Williams: My wish is that you stay healthy. You are one of the best ambassadors for the game and we’d love to see you make another Grand Slam run.
Sam Querrey/John Isner/James Blake: My wish is that one of you make some kind of breatkthrough this year at a Grand Slam. And no, not make it to the quarters. I mean taking out Federer or Nadal en route to the semifinals or better. It’s the only way you will make it to the elite and, more important for U.S. Tennis fans, onto their radar screens.
Andy Roddick. My wish is probably the same one Andy has – another Grand Slam trophy under his Xmas tree.
Dinara Safina is paying the price for trying to hold onto her then No. 1 ranking during the end of the season while dealing with a serious back injury. According to the AP today, Safina has pulled out of the Brisbane International tournament because of the ongoing injury.
“I know she (Safina) would have been working around the clock to try to be ready for the event, but in the end time beat her and she is still undergoing treatment,” said tournament director Steve Ayles during a telephone interview.
The Brisbane event is a key warmup tourney for next month’s Australian Open as most of the top ten women players will show up along with Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.
Now that the WTA season is over and the ladies are resting up for Australia, I thought it was time to look ahead and give my predictions for 2010. 2009 was a drama filled year and I expect even more next year. Players will be “ranked” according to what I think their year-end ranking will be for 2010.
1. Serena Williams – Even with the return of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, I don’t expect anyone to take over the top spot from Serena and expect her to win at least two Slams for 2010.
2. Caroline Wozniacki – “Sunshine” as she’s known on the tour will have another consistent year and will find herself in another Slam final. If she can win a big one remains to be seen but it will be hard to bet against her next year. Conditioning and her excessive match play may hurt her down the road.
3. Dinara Safina – A lot depends on Safina’s current back injury and her mental toughness for 2010. I can see her in a Slam final but she will have to dismiss whatever demons she has in order to make it back to the top spot.
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova – Despite her mental flaws, “Sveta” will always be a factor in 2010 and will probably make it to another Slam final. If she wins a Slam next year is entirely up to her. Watch out for her at the Australian Open as she finished 2010 in good shape healthwise.
5. Venus Williams – 2010 will be the last chance at glory for Venus as she turns 30 this year. Aside from Wimbledon, she’s not been a factor for a while at the other Slams and her knee could be a big issue. Plus the fact that no one tour is afraid of playing her could may next year very tough.
6-9. These slots will change depending on the names, i.e. Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Dementieva, etc. They could breakthrough and win a Slam, but let’s face it, shouldn’t they have done so already?
10. Kim Clijsters – Everybody keeps salivating over Henin’s return but Clijsters, who played lights out tennis at the U.S. Open, will still go into every tournament with nothing to lose and thus no pressure. I expect Kimmie to be a factor in Australia and a heavy favorite at the U.S. Open again.
Wildcards – Justine Henin will be the story at the Australian Open win or lose. It will all depend on her draws and I actually think the clay court season is where she will find the most success. She has more to lose than Kim Clijsters in her comeback so a Slam victory in 2010 is paramount.
Sam Stosur – Stosur finally won a WTA event in ’09 and will probably break into the top 10 next year. She’s got the game to win a big one, maybe even Wimbledon, but does she believe she can win is the question.
Maria Sharapova – Sharapova is finally getting back on track after a rocky 2009. If her serve starts clicking again, she could be a factor but probably not until Wimbledon.
Ana Ivanovic – 2010 will define Ivanovic’s entire career. If she can get over her mental and physical fatigue, she could work her way back into the top ten again. If she can’t, I could see her retiring early. Hope I’m wrong.
Melanie Oudin – Next year will be the real test for the feisty American to prove the U.S. Open run was no fluke. I definitely see her in the top 20 before too long. Perhaps the French Open will be her next surprise Slam as she says she likes the clay?
Amelie Mauresmo – There’s been no word yet on Mauresmo’s potential retirement but even if she decides to stick it out, 2010 will probably be her last year. Maybe she will finally go for broke and play with nothing to lose? If so, we could be in for a real treat.
Let me know what you think!