Thursday, November 12, 2009

Living in Slump City

Players get into slumps for various reasons, some physical, some mental, some emotional, and maybe even some that defy explanation. A number of players are in some type of slump as the season ends, and fans hope that off-season training and/or relaxation will remedy the situation:

Relative Slumps

Dinara Safina: It may sound strange to describe a world number 2 as being in a "slump," but she is. Safina went from winning big tournaments but not winning any of the majors to not even winning the big tournaments. She's been living with a back injury, which has contributed to her decline. Her mental issue with the finals of majors could only feed on themselves, and one wonders what Safina has to do to get back on top.

Jelena Jankovic: Her fans have waited a long time for to finally put everthing together. This year--even more than 2008--she did, by significantly improving her first serve. But she returned from her off-season with a bulked-up body that made her movement (and Jankovic's movement is her greatest gift) sluggish, so she had to drop the weight, get a new fitness coach, and re-train. Then her mother became seriously ill, a fact which preoccupied her for months. Finally, she won Cincinnati, and looked good for the U.S. Open, but during that tournament, her grandmother died, which (understandably) distracted her.

Jelena's plight, sadly, makes me think of Roseanne Roseannadanna: "It's always something."

All-out slumps

Ana Ivanovic: What happened here? She had some injury issues, and then she never really came back to where she was when she won the French Open in 2008. Ivanovic always sounds hopeful about her career, but opponents now see her as someone they can beat.

Agnes Szavay: Szavay's 2008 slump was probably the biggest on the tour. Things got a bit better this year, but not consistently so. Szavay was once considered one of the most promising young players on the tour, but something has happened.

Yan and Zheng: Zheng Jie's injuries have taken a big toll on this team, which--just a couple of years ago--was winning big. She and Yan Zi are playing more these days, and we can only hope that in 2010, they return to the elite section of doubles players.

Alize Cornet: Cornet looked to be a real talent, at least on clay, but her performances have been lackluster this season.

Kaia Kanepi: Just when Kanepi was getting noticed, she went into a major slump, and has yet to show signs of getting out of it.

Anabel Medina Garrigues: The Spaniard had a poor season, and did not even do as well as usual in doubles. This was a surprise to me, and I have no idea what caused it.

Daniela Hantuchova: Hantuchova's comeback a few years ago was most impressive, but things haven't gone as planned. She has always had issues in big matches (like our next player), but now she is struggling to compete at the high level which formerly defined her game.

Not exactly slump:

Patty Schnyder: Schnyder, a player who--in my opinion--never reached her considerable potential, has finally started her slide down the rankings. To the delight of many, however, she had some very good wins in the latter part of the season, proving that perhaps she isn't done yet. And, playing with Anna-Lena Groenefeld, she's had a solid doubles career lately. In general, though, I think we are looking at the winding down of an excellent, if frustrating, career.

Vera Zvonareva: It's not easy to slump in your biggest year on tour, but thanks to a terrible injury she sustained in Charleston, Zvonareva has done just that. She continues to have trouble with her ankle, and her emotional issues--of which she had taken control--have crept in again. Zvonareva said, not that long ago, that she had learned to let her anger out and then move on, but ever since the U.S. Open, there appears to have been a regression. Nevertheless, I don't think any of the emotional untangling would have occurred if the talented Russian had not seen her best season ruined by an injury.

Zvonareva had arthroscopic ankle surgery in Rotterdam this week, and should be back on the court in four or five weeks. One hopes she can take up where she left off right before the Charleston incident.

Jelena Dokic: Dokic's Australian Open run filled fans with hope, but the comeback player became exhausted and ill, and had problems competing. The good news is that lately, she has been doing extremely well in challengers. If she can stay healthy, she has a chance to make 2010 a good season.

Beyond slump:

Amelie Mauresmo: Mauresmo may retire at the end of this season. Despite winning in Paris during the early part of the season, she has had another disappointing year, and it is probably time, or nearly time, for her to move on to her next career.

Michaella Krajicek: Krajicek's career has been plagued with injury. Just when she gets it going, she gets hurt. Some players are just like that. At this point, after so many tries, it's hard to imagine Krajicek in the mix.

Nicole Vaidisova: Vaidisova, in case you're wondering, still travels with the tour--the other tour. She is often seen at ATP tournaments where Radek Stepanek plays, but we don't see her much anymore in matches of her own. An acquaintance of the Czech player said earlier this year that Vaidisova is constitutionally incapable of engaging in competition, and that explanation was good enough for me.


Apollinaria said...

Add Anna Chakvetadze to that list. Stat. :D

Diane said...

Anna is in such a long-term slump, I didn't even think to put her in the list! Yes, add Anna...