mercredi 28 décembre 2011

2012 Preview : Who will dominate ? Which new faces are we like to discover ?

While men's tennis is clearly domintated by the like of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The WTA Tour got big stars, of course, but no dominant player and that what makes it, in my opinion, much more interesting. In fact, when a tournament begins, you can't really predict who will win. In fact who would have bet Li Na would win in Roland Garros or that Samantha Stosur would clinch the US Open title ? Not many of us !

Petra Kvitova during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open (Madrid, Spain)
And this year seems to go the sam way. Lot of specialists think that 2012 will be Petra Kvitova's year. In fact the left-handed czech player showed great skills : power off both wings, good speed from side to side and clean volleys, which is a little bit of a miracle in today's women's tennis. Winning Wimbledon and the Masters Cup in Instanbul this year, she learnt how to dominate the game with her modern style. The thing is , will she able to hold her nerves ? Will she able to handle the preassure that will surround her... In fact, she admitted herself that after her Wimbledon win she got overwhelmed by all medias surrounding her to explain why she played so erratic during the US Season Hardcourt. In fact, if she keeps so up and down, she won't be able to be a solid number one. Well, she's only 21 and she's still got a lot to learn a lot of things. Besides, she also perfectly represents the star the WTA was looking... Sorry "the hero". In my opinion, 2012 will be a good year for Petra, but not THE Year. She will win tournaments, she will be a big contender for slams and may win one (at Roland Garros maybe...), she also could manage to grab the first spot for a while, but I doubt she's handle her nerves until the end. I am taking risks since everybody thinks she is going to be the dominant player out there, as Martina Navratilova said, but I don't think it'll be this year.

All Maria Sharapova's happiness after her win over Cibulkova (Wimbledon, London)

Petra Kvitova has beatten Maria Sharapova in the final of the Championships Wimbledon and 2012 could precisely be her year if somehow she manages to heal her ankle, that she injuried at the Tokyo Toray Pan Pacific Open 2011. In fact, in 2011, Maria played a good tennis throughout the season, winning 2 "Premier 5" titles at the Italian Open (yes, she did it on clay ! Our cow on ice) and in Cincinnati Open. Maria is in the middle of two generations, of two ages. even though we know her for such a long time, Maria is still 24, which is young ! She's got the experience, the youth and, the most important : the motivation and the determination back. We saw her having pleasure again on the court. Her tennis is coming back to its top a little by little and this is thanks to Thomas Hogstedt, her new coach that helped her out finding back this lethal forehand (that, sometimes, she loses during matches by the way) and a quite average serve by renewing her motion (again). Maria's big problem remains the serve, under preassure, she cannot rely on it and usually hit tons of double faults (18 against Alexandra Dulgheru in Miami Quarter-final) which was Dementieva's big problem throughout her carrer and we know that Elena never won a slam... Even though, Maria got this extra-thing, she's got that will, she also got that mental strengh that lead her to win tournaments even when she's far from her standards (Cincinnati this week). For me, with few things back (and Sasha's fistpump from time to times) in her game, Maria Sharapova has got what it takes to dominate, again when she won, for example, Wimbledon in 2004, against...

Serena Williams crying after her 1st round win  at Wimbledon (London)

Serena Williams. Yes, the American player is still here, forever and always. After a tough year where suffered really serious health problems she decided to be back at Eastbourne and then at Wimbledon where she reached the 4th round. The US Hardcourt season was great as she won both Stanford and Toronto before reaching the US Open final. No doubt Serena Williams will remain the player to beat during Grand Slams and big events. No doubt that Serena Williams will not  let youngsters take her place that easily. As far as I am concerned, I think Serena is still a tough contender in grand slams and will definitely grab one or more Grand Slams titles this year. And this will begin in few weeks in Melbourne, where she won 5 times. 2012 could defnietly be one more year for Williams to dominate. The only question remains motivation. We all know that motivation is so up and down for Serena, but when you're back after such a long time, I assume your hungry and we all know that when she is, she can beat anyone on her way. The only sure thing is that nobody can say Serena Williams is not at the top, just ask the current world number one who she trashed at the US Open, in the semi-finals, this year.

Caroline Wozniacki hitting a backhand (Melbourne, Australia)

The current world number... Caroline Wozniacki, the young dane is the WTA Tour number one, no doubt but is she the best player of the year ? That's what's a lot of people are skeptic about. I am too actually but that's not the point. She plays great defensive tennis and moves very well arround the court which are great skills in today's tennis. She perhaps lacks power or intiatives and will to go forward but the biggest problem is her scheduling. In fact, what's the point of playing Brussels the week before Roland Garros when you're a bit injuried and you played Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome right before reaching final and semi-finals in Stuttgart and Rome ? What's the point of playing in Copenhaguen the week right before Wimbledon, knowing that the tournament is held indoors, on hard ? Well, it's home, sure, but whern you are world number one, you got aims and priorities. Caroline Wozniacki won't dominate in 2012, she's just not ready yet actually and with Kvitova's rise, Serena's back to business and Sharapova's form back, Caroline has a lot of to worry about... And I'm not even talking about her level dropping at the end of the year during which she lost to Roberta Vinci (Toronto), Christina McHale (Cincinnati), Kanepi (Tokyo) and Pennetta (Beijing). Nonetheless, if she comes back steady and as regular and fit as she was at the beginning of the year, she'll still be able to win some titles on the tour, but, in 2012, she is not making it in Grand Slams... unless Ricardo Sanchez, her brand new coach find a way to take her to a revolution in her game...
Li Na on the british grass (Wimbledon, London)
Talking about a revolution make us talk about Li Na as she offered China it first Grand Slam title in singles on her least favorite surface against defending champion Fransesca Schiavone. I think this has been way a too chocking victory for her and a way too difficult to handle mentally as she barely won a match after this unexpected success. At 30, Li Na will begin in 2012 the end of her career and I don't think she'll find this extra fire-power to do some damage as she realised a great season in 2011 except during the Olympic Games maybe. Li Na confessed so many times in her career that winning an olympic medal would be the greatest achivement of her life. She failed in 2008, at home, in Beijing, losing against Vera Zvonareva the match for the bronze medal. No doubt she'll make the London Olymics rendez-vous her biggest aim of the year and she still got what it takes in her racquet to clinch a medal there. Even though I can see her go down a little in the rankings, she will reamin a treath in Grand Slam, in the Australian Open for example where she reached the final in 2011, losing to belgian star ...
Kim Clijsters  holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (Australia)
Kim Clijsters who began the year perfectly with this win added to two finals in both Sydney and Paris (Indoors). Then Kim's season has been full of injuries which made her play six more events missing both Wimbledon and the US Open and finishing the year outside of the Top 10. But no doubt that Jada's mum is going to give everything she got left for 2012 as it will be an Olympic year and that she always dreamt about winning a medal in singles. Also, Kim Clijsters said that 2012 would be her last full season played. We don't know yet if she is planning to retire (again) or just be a part-time player after 2012 but the thing is that she still got what it takes to be back to the top. She'll have to be back fast on track as she's got this title in Australia to defend. I actually think she won't win this trophy twice but will defnitely be a threat in other slams, especially in New York, where she feels right at home...

Sam Stosur's terrific forehand : her best weapon (Brisbane, Australia)
A home that Samantha Stosur took this year playing impressive tennis to do so ! The Aussie player will thus want to begin well 2012 during the Australian swing but we all know that mental issues make her lose a lot of matches she should've won, like in 2010, in the Roland Garros final. I don't know if she'll be able to hold her nerves and it will be her biggest challenge this year in Australia. She also needs to improve more on her backhand which can, in off days, really be a problem in her entire game. I don't think she'll win a grand slam this year but she'll remain one of those players who can pull out an upset from nowhere when you don't expect it .

All Sabine Lisciki's will on the British courts (Wimbledon, London)
The same goes for the youngsters we  discoverd this year that could pull some upsets and why not really make a breakthrough this year as Sabine Lisicki made it this year at the Wimbledon championships, coming back from an one year injury, she won the Birmingham tournament before reaching the semi-finals in London losing to Maria Sharapova 6/3 6/4. 2012 could be her year as a promising star. She's got a terrific forehand and a powerful backhand and moves well around the court. She can  pull big upsets as  beating Li Na at Wimbledon in the 2nd round. Her serve is her biggest weapon even though her second serve can be a bit weak. 2012 could also be a great year for the one who won at Stuttgart, the german Julia Goerges,
Julia Goerges celebrating victory home, in Stuttgart (Germany)

beating the world number one Caroline Wozniacki. Julia got what it takes to become a tennis star : terrific forehand that reminds Ana Ivanvic's one, a solid backhand and a flat effective serve. She also know how to vary her game and does everything well with her racquet. But she'll have to stay focused on her tennis and not getting disturbed by some fashion shooting and so on as Julia is clearly the likes of Maria Kirilenko or Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova, a tennis player with a hot body and a pretty face. Another young player to look for is young amercian Christina McHale that made big upsets this year beating Caroline Wozniacki and Marion Bartoli. Even though, for me, the most likely to breakthrough big this year is Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Pavlyuchenkova, Russia's biggest hope (New York, US Open)

The 19 years old teenager has this termendous power and a good sense of game, is she keeps improving on fitness and serve which can be abysmal. China, after Li Na, can count an another hero : Shuai Peng. In fact she played some solid tennis this year but her doubtful fitness made her miss the second part of the season. The list is ont exhaustive as we could also talk of Heather Watson for example and few more.

I know I did not talk about Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska but it's just because that for me those two ladies will probably have a regular season as they did this year, clinching one or two Premier events but won't be that relevant in Grand Slams or at the Olympics. In fact I think they need to be more mature and to believe more in theirselves. I can't see none of these ladies going further than quarter-finals at any slam this year. But I'd discuss with anyone who can make me change my mind !

Marion Bartoli at Roland Garros (France)
 A last word maybe to say that I believe in three players to do well in 2012 but I couldn't put them in a specific category. Marion Bartoli who had a quite solid season, will be, for me, one of the girls to watch out this season. She's becoming fitter, wiser and quicker on the court which makes a her a great player, who, can , in a good day, beat anyone at its top. Marion is perhaps not ready yet to win a Grand Slam but no doubt she'll be a threat for all big players that she could face. This year, her route in Roland Garros was much more due to her mental strengh than to her tennis and that's terrific, she's got this fitghting spirit which could lead her to a high level tennis. Wait and See

Daniela Hantuchova and her smooth backhand (Strasbourg, France)
My other pick goes to Daniela Hantuchova. In fact, Daniela is able to play some great tennis as she did this year to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the 3rd round of Roland Garros. This year, she's been really up and down but I expect her to come back at a great level as she usually do after three or four years of averageness. So for me, she'll also be a player to watch out. I know it's a big bet and I got chances to be wrong but I like taking risks and I believe Daniela still has great shots in her racquet to be back and strongly back as she's got one of the purest ball striking on the tour and knows to do everything with the ball.

Jelena Dokic's teremendous forehand (Melbourne, Australia)
 I also wish that Jelena Dokic will be able to be back on track in a great way. I don't know what to think of her going back with her crazy father but if it suits her tennis then I guess I am ok with it. Besides, she reminds me a lot of Daniela's in term of ball striking but in a more physical and powerful way. Jelena played some great matches in order to win this year at Kuala Lampur and did really well against Schiavone in Wimbledon, in the 1st round even if she's lost. I guess in 2012, I'd bet a coin on her to play some great tennis and be back in the Top 20 if she stays injury free. I expect her to play great in Australia and to come back fitter and mentally strong again ! I believe in Jelena.

Aravane Rezai in high-fashion style (Wimbledon, London)
My last mention will go to a player that went through a very tough year, both mentally and tenistically and that I truly and deeply support, Aravane Rezai. In fact she began the year in the Top 10 and finishes it out of the Top 100. Disappointing? But it's nothing  compared to all the drama that surrounded her this year : troubles with her father that she suied, with her family that she had to split off with because of a tyranic father... Reminds me a bit of Dokic by the way. But whatever, if Aravane manages to be back mentally on track, no doubt her tennis will be back and if it does so, 2012 could also be her year. I've rarely seen a woman hitting so hard, so deep and so efortless shots from the baseline, she's really talented and got what it takes the perturb best players of the world as she did in 2011 beating Venus Williams and Justine Henin, threatining Serena Williams in Sydney. We also know that Aravane loves playing for France and reaching the Olympic Games' cut will be the main objective for her at the beginning of the season.

To conclude, 2011 brings a lot of questions and of suppositions. We all believe in things that will happen or won't and I'm glad to share it here with you. The best answer we could get will be in few days when the Tour will begin in Perth, Brisbane and Auckland ! See ya !

2 commentaires:

  1. Interesting preview of who might do well in 2012. Hantuchova, Dokic and Rezai are brave calls. In fact, Dokic and Rezai both have something in common, their careers have suffered because of their fathers. Let's hope Rezai can get it together, she was really incredible when she won Madrid in 2010 beating Jankovic and Venus Williams.

  2. Hey........

    Thanks a lot for sharing a good article....

    By the way checkout the total information about the Australian Open Tennis 2012 like players, prize money, Australian Open 2012 dates , Australian Open Tennis 2012 Schedule and many more latest information from Australian Open 2012