I don’t know anyone who enjoyed 2009. Really, I am not exaggerating. Everyone I know has one complaint or another about how awful that year was. Between the job losses and the emotional pain, everyone seems to be relieved to be free of 2009 karma, and appear to be going into 2010 with a poignant sense of hopefulness. It’s almost as if 2009 brought with it a form of emotional tsunami that brought and washed a lot of bad detritus into and out of our lives. We look forward to 2010 with a renewed sense of optimism.
So it is in the world of women’s tennis. There seems to be an abundance of good news on the women’s tour. Already there are signs that the drought of 2009 may be over and that we can look forward to a plethora of great tennis matches throughout 2010.
For a start, Dinara Safina has declared that she is healthy again and that her back is 100% recovered. That is terrific news. Here’s hoping that her head is PST-fixed as well. Her fellow Russian, Maria Sharapova, seems also to have recovered nicely from the shoulder injury that sidelined her for much of last year. She had decisive wins this week against Denmark’s Wozniacki and China’s Zheng Jie during the Hong Kong exhibition match.
Ana Ivanovic is also back on tour, claiming that there have been lessons learned. Again, great news. And 20-year-old Yanina Wickmayer has pushed past the doping questions that threatened to derail her career in 2009. She opened 2010 with a decisive win against the top seed Flavia Pennetta in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland. Niiiice.
Not to be outdone, 15-year-old Laura Robson (photo below) did her part to try to bring the Hopman Cup home to England, defeating Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in straight sets. After her sweet interview, Robson looked on expectantly as Andy Murray took on Tommy Robredo. So confident was I that Murray would win that match that I stopped watching after he closed out the first set 6-1. Serves me right. He lost to Robredo in three. Spain has won the Hopman Cup. The consolation? The discovery that Robson’s Junior Wimbledon win was no fluke. She finally seems ready to hang with the Big Babes in 2010.
In Brisbane, Kim Clijsters earned a difficult win against Justine Henin in a thrilling match watched by her gorgeous husband and daughter. Kim went up 4-1 in the second after winning the first, but Justine bullied her way back. Justine then served at 5-3 in the third but could not close it out. The momentum shifted back and forth before Kim finally emerged the winner, playing some of the illest returns to close out the match. I am so happy that both women are back on the tour. And how sweet was it when Kim announced that she was donating all of her prize monies to the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital? For a moment there I regretted calling them all greedy whores.
I don’t know if Jelena Dokic has recovered from the fatigue that plagued her in 2009 but I certainly hope she has. Her side-to-side bashing style of play is emerging as a very effective game plan in baseline tennis. So many of the women now play this way that I have been forced to get over my distaste for it. So what if it lacks variety? It works dammit.
And of course I am also looking forward to seeing what else Svetlana Kuznetsova will do in 2010. I think she is capable of so much, along with Serena and Venus Williams of course. I’m not worried about Serena, but towards the end of 2009, Venus had started looking plenty battered. I did not keep track of what she got up to during the break but whatever it was, I hope it was rejuvenating. Women’s tennis still needs her. And I look forward to even more of the sisters’ dominance in doubles.
Finally, the promise of women’s tennis in 2010 also includes the excitement of some of the younger players who seem ready to step up and fill the void created by those who retired in 2009. Will Oudin deliver on the promise of her shoes? Will Azarenka learn to pace herself? Will Sabine Lisicki play more than two events in a row without getting hurt? Will Alisa Kleybanova show more of her spirit? Will Alize Cornet take her nose out of the air? Will we get to know Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova? And will Kimiko Date Krumm continue to remain young at heart? So many questions. Can’t wait to see the answers unfold.