Friday, September 19, 2008

Rooting interests

It's down to the final four at the WTA's tour stop in Tokyo this week, and it's kind of hard to pick who I'm pulling for to come away with the title. Each of the semifinalists kind of tugs at me a little as to where I really wouldn't mind who won.

First, there's Svetlana Kuznetsova, who's pretty much become the tour's perennial bridesmaid. How do you do as well as she's done over the past couple of years and not pick up much first-place hardware? Come on, Kuz! After knocking off Jelena Jankovic, you should be able to pick up a title already!

Then, there's Dinara Safina. If you were to see the Safina bandwagon trolling around your neck of the woods, odds are I'd be the one pulling it along! After doubting her forever, she's finally converted me with her play this year. She's definitely deserving of a top-four ranking by the end of the year.

Nadia Petrova's got a pretty good story going, too, as it seems she's finally starting to get her form back. Remember when it was only a couple of years ago that she got to number three in the world? She was the hottest player on the tour going into the '06 French Open and was picked by many to bag that title, but a hip injury knocked her off course then. It's good to see her playing well again.

And what about the veteran, Katarina Srebotnik? I think if you're a top 10 player, you don't want to be facing her, as Elena Dementieva can attest to after being the latest one to fall to her this year. She's still playing a lot of doubles and having success there, but she's showing she's no slouch sans a partner. And just think, Srebotnik came through the qualies to get this far!

So after looking at them all, I guess I'm going to go with Safina/Kuznetsova/Petrova/Srebotnik. That's my pick and I'm sticking to it!

(Photos: Getty Images)


TopSpin said...

Kuznetsova - How do you solve a problem like Kuznetsova...?
When Henin announced her retirement earlier, I genuinely thought Kuznetsova was poised to take her second Grand Slam at the French Open.
Safina was (and still is) the form player but hadn't yet been to a final; Ivanovic with her problematic movement and well documented mental frailty was certainly a contender but I thought (and still believe) that she would struggle against a more complete player; Jankovic was in my estimation better placed , but we all know of her service issues and lack of aggressive play - I still thought she'd make the final.
Bottom line: They all have fairly prominent holes in their game (Sharapova & the Williams Sisters were not contenders IMO - maybe Serena is now - but on clay I doubt it)
Now I'm not suggesting for a minute that Kuznetsova doesn't have holes in her game but comparatively speaking she is the more complete player: She can serve, volley (played a lot of doubles), has superb, powerful and well placed groundstrokes (backhand in particular), moves fairly well and doesn't appear to have the fitness problems of other players.
Yes I know she lacks belief, confidence whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure its that simple but whatever it is it once again proved to be her undoing. She produced one of her worst meltdowns this year against Safina in that semi final - Safina didnt even have to play to form to win - very sad :(
I backed her as a multiple slam winner after her win in 2004 at Flushing Meadows but am not so sure now - its been four years since then and even though she's been to Slam finals has always produced a sub par performance against Henin.
Apologies for the length of this post which was not meant to be about deconstructing Kuznetsova (!); its just she's one of my favourite players and I would love to see her win once again...

van said...

Hey Topspin, how are you? Waaay back around French Open time, I actually thought Kuznetsova was going to out before the semis, mainly because her form has been kind of so-so when you look at it at times this year. You're right, she does have all the game, but for some reason isn't getting it together. I mean, the only title she's won in the past couple of years is New Haven last year and that's when her opponent retired in the finals! I wouldn't mind seeing her get it together, too.