Tag Archives: Kim Clijsters

“The Best” in Tennis – 2009 Review.

Of course this being December, everyone is taking a look back at the year that was. Here’s my brief look back at the best in tennis for 2009.

Player of the Year – Kim Clijsters.
Yes I know Roger Federer had an amazing year, again, but Kim Clijsters’s title run at the U.S. Open was the story of the year not only for her exceptional play but also that it highlighted, unfairly perhaps, the lack of depth in the women’s game right now. If Clijsters had not won the Open, I doubt Justine Henin would have returned as she too senses an opportunity for more glory. Clijsters’s win in New York was a “tour-changer” and its impact will be felt in 2010 regardless how well Clijsters does next year.

Best Men’s Match of the Year. – Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick – Wimbledon Men’s Final.
Ok so this wasn’t quite the epic that Federer vs. Nadal was last year, but it certainly had it’s share of drama especially the fifth set “serve-off” that Federer barely won thus eclipsing Roddick’s dream of a Wimbledon title. One wonders if Roddick still thinks about that missed backhand volley that could have given him a two set to love lead in the match, but the respect Roddick earned worldwide will certainly be with him next year. (I know some would say Nadal vs. Verdasco in the Australian Open Semis was “the” match, but I have to give the edge here just because it was for the Wimbledon title.)

Best Women’s Match of the Year – Serena Williams vs. Elena Dementieva – Wimbledon Semifinals.
What impressed me the most was the ball striking in this one as the ladies hit the ball harder than any men’s match I’ve ever seen. Dementieva was oh so close to taking out the top seed but Serena’s perseverance not only paid off by winning this match, and then the finals against sister Venus, but did a lot to cement Serena as the female player of the decade.

Comeback Players of the Year – Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nikolay Davydenko.
I know people are expecting Kim Clijsters here but let’s face it, “Sveta’s” win at the French Open was a bit unexpected as many had already written her off as a one Slam wonder. Her consistent play throughout the year indicated that Sveta was hungry for more glory and I expect her to do well in 2010. As for Davydenko, many had forgotten him at the beginning of the year and his substandard play during the Slams. But his late season run including wins at Shanghai and the Barclays ATP Finals proved he was always in the mix.

Rising Star of the Year – Juan Martin Del Potro.
With his total beatdown of Rafael Nadal in the semis of the U.S. Open and then his amazing five set win over Roger Federer in the finals, Del Potro emerged from the pack of contenders to become “the” contender for Roger’s crown in 2010. How he handles his newfound fame, considering his rather shy nature, remains to be seen but do not count Delpo for any title next year.

And finally a special thanks to those players who retired this year including Marat Safin, Amelie Mauresmo, Fabrice Santoro and Ai Sugiyama. All of them brought their own unique gifts, spins and personalities to a game that desperately needs more players like them. I wish them all the best in their new lives.

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WTA Crystal Ball for 2010.

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!

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J.J. Qualifies while Kimmie’s Streak Ends.

The final spot for the season ending WTA Championships in Doha went to Jelena Jankovic after Vera Zvonareva lost her second round match to qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-2 at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Jankovic who won her match against Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5), 6-3 clinched the remaining spot. She said afterwards “I was really happy when I heard that I’d made it to Doha,” Jankovic said. “It was very important for me.”

On the men’s side, Robby Ginepri and Janko Tipsarevic won while Marat Safin lost in his final bid to win his hometown tournament, losing to Evgueni Korolev.

At the BNP Paribas Open Luxembourg, Kim Clijsters’s win streak, which included her now fabled run at the U.S. Open, came to an end when she lost to Patty Schnyder 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6). Clijsters is not planning to play anymore events until the start of 2010.

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Moscow Showdown and the Return of Kimmie

The only real intrigue going on this week in Moscow, other than the mayor’s bold claim that he will create a “snow-less winter”, will be which of the remaining ladies with a fighting chance of making it to Doha will prevail at this week’s Kremlin Cup.

Jelena Jankovic, Agnieska Radwanska, and Vera Zvonareva are all competing for the final spot to Doha. Jankovic is defending champion at the event so all the pressure will be on her to not only defend but somehow outlast the other two ladies.

The men are also playing in Moscow this week but the stakes are not as high. Nikolay Davydenko is playing (of course) and will meet Marat Safin in the first round. Good luck with that Kolya.

And let’s not forget the return of Kim Clijsters who will show up in Luxembourg for her first post U.S. Open win event. She could face her fellow finalist Caroline Wozniacki who is also playing the event.

Who do you think will be that last to qualify for Doha?

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No. 1 Ranking Up for Grabs – But Do You Care?

Dinara Safina in Action (Getty Images)

Dinara Safina in Action (Getty Images)

Of course the drama filled WTA tour wouldn’t end right without a”dramatic” ending to the year. The tour announced on its website that the top ranking was “up for grabs” this week at the China Open depending on how well current number one Dinara Safina and the perceived, in the minds of many, number one Serena Williams play at the event.

Safina’s regin at number one has been debated ad nauseum as she has failed to win a Slam this year and her lackluster early round losses this summer. Serena’s claim to the throne, after winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has fallen short due to her unstellar performances at top tier events.

As I’m writing this, Safina has just lost to wildcard Shuai Zhang 7-5. 7-6 (5) in the second round. So if Serena wins her next match then she should be number one.

But what if Serena loses? And what if Safina decides to play some Tier IV event, wins it, and get back on top? My point is is that even if Serena gets back to number one, this debate won’t change until one of these players has a consistent year both in the Slams and in the top tier events.

Safina said in a recent interview that being number one was more important than anything and that, and I’m paraphrasing, no one remembers who won what Slam but everybody remembers who was number one.

While I can understand her logic to a degree, and it is a defensive logic, I’m sure Safina would dearly love to win a Slam next year even it means not being number one. But with the return of Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and a renewed Maria Sharapova, that goal may be harder to reach than ever.

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