October 5, 2011

Looking for Follow-Through

It's not news that the schedule of a professional tennis player can be taxing. With nearly every week on the calendar featuring an event somewhere on the globe, athletes often head straight from one tournament to another, and those lucky enough to make the final rounds one week could easily find themselves right back in action days, even hours, later. So we shouldn't be too surprised to see signs of fatigue, and hopefully those who do pull through will be able to keep it up

It's not all good news, of course. Pablo Andujar, since making the final in Bucharest, has lost two straight first rounds, most recently to world #137 Matthew Ebden. And Marcos Baghdatis, who pulled off one upset after another last week in Kuala Lumpur, apparently didn't have one more in him, falling to Andy Murray in Tokyo earlier today, while Janko Tipsarevic, high off his first career title, lost a battle with Dmitry Tursunov right off the bat. Then there's Pan Pacific runner-up Vera Zvonareva -- she struggled against Klara Zakopalova in her Beijing opener and was subsequently drubbed by a resurgent Ana Ivanovic in the third round.

On the other hand, we shouldn't be surprised to see players like Bangkok titleist Murray and Japan Open champ Aggie Radwanska do well, at least in the early stages of a tournament. It's the more unlikely heroes we should be watching.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has spent most of the last three years in and around the top fifteen, but he hadn't won a title since 2009 until Metz a few weeks back. He's the top seed at the China Open and survived a potentially big challenge from up-and-comer Grigor Dimitrov in his first round. He'll meet wildcard Ze Zhang next, but has a tough quarter of the draw with former #1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych and one-time top-ten player Fernando Verdasco all playing some good ball these days. If he wants to be a real contender at the World Tour Finals, he'll have to keep his level up.

Kaia Kanepi hasn't been quite as consistent, but nevertheless has a chance to climb back into the sport's elite. Having dropped several ranking points the last few months after a foot injury kept her out of contention, she finally showed signs of the strength she had at the All England Club last year. She scored wins over U.S. Open standout Flavia Pennetta and world #1 Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo last week, and benefitted in Beijing from the retirement of Sabine Lisicki. Tomorrow, she'll have a rematch with the Dane on Thursday, clearly no easy repeat. But if she's able to clear her path again, she'll certainly be well on her way to turning her year in a new direction.

There's certainly downside to playing such a physically demanding sport day in and day out, and hopefully none of these guys will pay a price for jumping right back into the game. If they are able to manage their schedules it could mean a very successful fall run -- they just have to be careful they don't suffer the fate of so many others.

1 comment:

Alex Quinn 82 said...

I can't wait to go the Australian Open 2012 ! I went last year and had one of the best times with my friends. Being able to watch Djokovic and Clijsters take the wins was amazing and having the opportunity to see parts of Australia at the same time was a great experience.