Friday, 8 April 2011

Miami: Ladies Wrap Up



Novak,Rafa and Fed stole most of my bandwidth this week, but there’s still enough time for a ladies wrap up almost a full week after Miami ended.

We already knew Vika could win a title as big as this (she already did, two years ago), we already knew she’s capable of winning a Slam. We’ve always known.


So are Caro and Vera. So were Dinara, JJ and, dare I say it, Sam Stosur.

When Vika peaked the last time back in 2009, she was, in my opinion, the most credible maiden-Slam contender, second only to Dinara Safina. All of that was put paid to by Serena Williams, time…..after time….after time. And all of those Slam QFs were only possible when she wasn’t injured, passing out in the sun or, you know, dodging falling pianos.

All of which is to say….long time coming girl, but perhaps, now, even more welcome.

And as for those only now discovering that ‘neath that stroppy exterior lurks someone almost as likeable and (dare I say it) “nice” *shudder* as Caro or Kim, well…lets just say a bunch of us were on this bandwagon first; that’s right we’all took the finest seats already – and I’m not even remotely sorry that there’s standing room only.

Why should it be any different from 2009 this time? For one thing, Serena’s (sadly)not around, and it’s not at all clear what shape she’ll be in when she does return. That leaves Kim, with her uber-curtailed Super-Mom schedule. Venus has signalled a return in May, Henin, as we know, is no more. All in all, just as depleted of heavyweight talent as the field was back in 2009. Vika has as good a chance as any to capitalise on this (as does Bepa), but something tells me Woz will be first. 



Maria Sharapova’s tennis may be in the gutter – but she is clearly looking at the stars.

A SF followed by a final at the two most prestigious events outside of the Slams – whatever else might be going on with her game, her champions spirit is wholly intact, and just waiting, willing you, daring you to bait it into action. Mock at your peril.

That said, the dysfunction once thought limited to her serve has gone viral.

Even as recently as the middle of last year I was fond of saying that whilst her serve may never again be what it once was, her groundies are (for the most part) looking like a loose approximation of the player I once knew. Not so anymore.

It didn’t go wrong all at once, of course. In the beginning there was light, and only the mere suggestion of the error (unforced or otherwise). UFE soon begat UFE, and it wasn’t long before we began to hear of matches composed, in their entirety, of (50, 60+) UFEs.


The common denominator in all this was an organically-conceived defiance that simply refused to flinch in the face of malfunction: the resulting UFEs were, therefore, long (sometimes horribly so), insupportably wide, but rarely in the net.

The latest and most irksome “anti-feature” is to be found in forehands that flop, comatose, at the bottom of the net. This is not the stuff of netcords.

What really irks, is that she often seems to set up well, and even when she’s been off-footed, you kinda just expect her to shunt it wildly away somewhere in the stands: soulless, complacent, ineffectual grunge is simply not her style.

To put it very bluntly, its difficult to see her, in the immediate future, stringing together the requisite 7/7 matches to win a Slam with this degree of entropy in her system – she’s just as likely to oust Kim as she is to be ousted by a Virginie Razzano (I pledged to pick whoever I found ranked at #100, honest).

Which kinda makes you marvel all the more at what she achieved in these last two events. 

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