May 12, 2009

Something's Been Missing

I've said it before, but it's been a rough ride in women's tennis over the last several months.

When we began the year Jelena Jankovic held the top spot, but when she lost at the Australian Open she quickly ceded the position to Serena Williams. Then through a strange series of point-tallying, Dinara Safina climbed her way to becoming the nineteenth woman to be #1.

At first the statistics seemed wrong -- Serena had won the last two Grand Slams, even beating Dinara in the finals of Melbourne. But then she was demolished in the championship round in Miami, lost her next two matches and pulled out of Madrid. Dinara on the other hand followed up second place in Stuttgart with a trophy in Rome.

In the meantime Elena Dementieva grabbed a career high third place for five weeks, but as of Monday gave it up to Venus Williams, who's at her highest post since 2003 despite losing her first match in Spain today. Defending French Open champ Ana Ivanovic has been title-free since October and a couple of teenage newbies keep popping in and around the top ten.

What we need is a dominating force back in the game -- someone who can get to the top and stay there for more than a few weeks at a time. And it may take a while, but we could get the beginnings of an answer next week.

After a disappointing doubles showing in Indian Wells in March, Maria Sharapova announced on her website yesterday that she'd be back on the singles circuit in Warsaw -- her first solo match since August. The triple-Slam winner left the tour with a shoulder injury last summer and has seen her ranking fall from #3 to #65 in the nine months since. But I'm sure she -- as well as a slew of fans -- is happy to be back, and eager to slice her way to the top.

Her post made no mention of whether she was still planning to play at Roland Garros the week after -- I'm sure she's planning to take it one step at a time. But a solid performance could make the draw in Paris all the more interesting.

And I can't wait to watch!

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