Monday, January 31, 2011

Garbin should be remembered for stylish play

Tathiana Garbin has ended her singles career. When she announced that the Australian Open would be her last tournament, she also indicated that she would play a short list of doubles tournaments in the future, so we probably should not expect to see much of her. This is undoubtedly bad news for Timea Bacsinszky, who has won three doubles titles with Garbin, and who--in a recent interview--made a plea to Garbin to stay active with her in doubles competition. Garbin and Bacsinszky have not been together that long, yet they have also have another accomplishment worth mentioning: They are 3-0 against the formidable Czech team of Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Garbin, who is 33 years old, won eleven doubles titles and one singles title, and she advanced to the finals of multiple tournaments. None of her wins was in a premier tournament, but Garbin was a consistently good doubles player throughout her career. The affable Italian player, know as "Tax" to  friends, was ranked as high as number 22 (2007) in the world  in singles, and number 25 (2001) in doubles. In 2007, she made it to the fourth round of the French Open in singles, but was defeated by Nicole Vaidisova. Garbin's most dramatic singles win was her defeat of  defending champion Justine Henin in the second round of the 2004 French Open. (It must also be noted that Henin was suffering with the cytomegalovirus at the time, and was soon off the tour for several months.)

Garbin played in eleven Fed Cup ties. Throughout her singles career, she also posted wins against Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Elena Dementieva, and Chanda Rubin, and she had one other win over Henin, in Miami, 2001.

I have always enjoyed watching Garbin play, and especially on clay, her favorite surface. Her 2009 French Open third round match against Virginie Razzano stands out as one of my favorite Garbin matches. The wind was swirling around the court, making it hard for both players to make shots, and Garbin threw ever kind of shot imaginable at Razzano, who eventually prevailed, 7-5, 7-5. For me, that was probably the most entertaining match of the entire tournament, and it was a thrilling show for people watching in the stands and at home. (To my delight, one of the many dazzling shots in that match made it to Tennis Channel's top 10 "Hot Shots" list for 2009.)

In addition to being a stylish shot-maker, Garbin could also be quite humorous on the court, and almost always gave the crowd a good laugh--or at least a smile. Here's hoping we see her at least now and then on the doubles court.