I envy anyone who was actually sitting in the stands today as Bernard Tomic finally took his place among tennis’ elite. Tomic’ promise has been shouted from the rooftops for a long, long time. In fact, for a while there it began to look as if he was going to be just another overrated Junior who lacked the cojones to take his place among the men. But I believe it is fair to say that today he finally delivered on the promise.
I am fascinated by Tomic’ game. He kind of reminds me of Martina Hingis. Like her, he has become skilled at the art of the junk ball, throwing in some whiffy shots with neither meat nor potatoes behind them. Like Hingis, Tomic is a master of deception. Just as his opponent seems to get lulled into comfort and confidence, Tomic the Tiger springs to the alert, and goes for the jugular. You never quite know what he is going to do next.
Not that I expect any of these deceptive tricks to work against his next opponent. I fully expect Djokovic to send him packing. But who knows? Tomic, with the element of cunning and surprise, may actually make a better showing than anyone expects. Certainly his career trajectory seems to be clearly pointed upward.
As I thought through this article today it occurred to me that Tomic is not the only one delivering on the promise at this 2011 Wimbledon. I could just as easily have said the same thing about Sabine Lisicki and Petra Kvitova. Heck, Navratilova has picked Kvitova to win it all, and who am I to dispute the great Navratilova?
I suppose that technically I should include Tsvetana Pironkova and Tamira Paszek on this list. But Pironkova seems, for some odd reason, to have her best results against Venus Williams. She actually now has a winning record against Venus. I’ve commented before on her unusual hacker style game. I believe that she wins because of her unique and unexpected style. But can I truly say that she is delivering on her promise? Umm, no. As for Tamira Paszek, I’ll be honest. I have no idea who she is. But if Azarenka ends up having yet another of her bizarre attacks of hysteria, I promise that I will make an effort to get to know Ms. Paszek.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the daring of Sabine Lisicki. I’m glad to see her healthy, fit, and confident. I love her big serves and her bigger forehand. Recently kind of upstaged by her countrywoman Julia Georges, Lisicki is, in my opinion, the true heir to the great Steffi Graf. And I would give her my unconditional support if only she did not have to face Bartoli in the next round.
As I mentioned a couple of articles ago, I can’t bear it when my faves collide. I couldn’t handle it when Lisicki had to face Na Li. And I can’t bear it that she will come up against Bartoli. If I was forced to choose, I guess I would hope for a Bartoli victory. Really, you don’t defeat Serena Williams only to turn around and fold. No, you deliver on the promise indicated by your Roland Garros semi-final and your Aegon win.
But if Lisicki were to win, I would be very happy about that too. I don’t mean to talk out of both sides of my mouth. But really I can’t lose, even if one woman must.
And then there is Petra Kvitova. So much talent in that six foot frame! I am thrilled that she has finally begun to lose some weight. For the longest time she did not look the part of a world class athlete, not with that belly hanging over her skirt waist. She is still physically not where I’d like to see her be but she is finally, clearly on her way there.
A fellow Piscean, Kvitova is a ferocious competitor who shows no mercy to her opponents. She made poor Wickmayer swallow a bagel today. Ouch. Kvitova may have the lefty advantage – if there is such an advantage. But she definitely needs to improve her movement. However her serve and groundstrokes are so lethal that once the ball is in play, she seems to have the edge. With four WTA titles under her belt, Kvitova has yet to win a Slam. How awesome would it be if Wimbledon turned out to be her first?