Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What the heck is going on with ... ?

It's official (and beating last year's nemesis, Willy Canas, only confirms it): Roger Federer is out of his funk.

But what about all the other slump-ridden players out there?

Whether it's caused by injuries, age, mental hang-ups or other players just figuring your game out, a slump can be a rough thing to try to get out of. There's a few players out there competing in Rome and Berlin this week that have hit the heights before, but recent results show no signs of getting back to where they once were. Here's a look at a few of them:

Ivan Ljubicic
• The Good Times: Remember back when he was the clear-cut number three player in the world behind R-Fed and Rafa? Here was a guy that peaked at a pretty late age and at one point, was making finals left and right. He made it to the semis of the French (where I actually thought he had a chance to beat Rafael Nadal) and also led his country to a Davis Cup win. • The Bad Times: He's chalked up a few first-round losses this year, the most recent being at the Italian Open. To me, though, his worst result of the year was losing the final of his hometown tournament in Zagreb to a lucky loser, Sergiy Stankhovsky, who hasn't done anything since then. • The Prognosis: I'm gonna have to go with bad. It was a great run: top-3 ranking, nearly $7 million in prize money, a few titles. I just don't see a comeback happening.

Carlos Moya
• The Good Times: Moya built a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame career as far as I'm concerned: A Slam, a runner-up at a Slam, time at number one, tons of titles. • The Bad Times: He's been in a final this year, but a recent four-match losing streak on clay (his best surface) portends an ominous sign methinks. • The prognosis: I think he'll pick up a title or two before it's all said and done, but I'd say his best days are probably behind.

Amelie Mauresmo
• The Good Times: The "best player to never win a major" did away with that title in style, nabbing an Aussie and Wimbledon to go along with her ton of other tournament victories. To me, it looked like she was on her way to becoming one of the greatest. • The Bad Times: After finally beating her mental hang-up problems, injuries and illness have really derailed her, particularly that appendicitis from last year. She actually pulled out of Berlin with another malady. • The Prognosis: She's as talented as any player out there, but she was never the toughest mentally. Number one and Slams are definitely not in her future again.

Marion Bartoli
• The Good Times: The Frenchwoman had her career moment last year making the finals of Wimbledon. She had been on the up-and-coming trail and really showed she could hang with the big girls. • The Bad Times: She had a convincing win today against another player that could be in the "What the heck is going on with ..." category, Lucie Safarova. But for the most part, it's been pretty downhill since Wimbledon and she has a sub-.500 record this year. • The Prognosis: Bartoli's still pretty young, so you can't completely rule her out, but she needs to dump the wacky training methods and techniques (Serving off your tippy-toes? Come on!) and dump the coach behind those ideas--her dad.

These are some of the big names among the slumpees out there. Who knows? Maybe they can turn it around like my man Younes El Aynaoui. But they need to do it quick.

(Photos: Ljubicic, Mauresmo: AP; Moya, Bartoli: Getty Images)

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hi Van

i really enjoyed this post. The Good and Bad Times works well.

I can almost see an accompanying post on who is on a roll at the moment.

Tommy Robredo is one good example (as i write he is about to serve for the match against Davydenko).

Steve