What are they? Why do they happen? Why these sudden seemingly inexplicable losses of form? When does it stop being a 'slump', and start being a player's new 'normal'?
All these players were top ten players, and suffered extreme
losses of form. Often, this is precipitiated by a failure to return
to form after an injury. Me personally, I don't call under-performing after an injury layoff a 'slump'. That 'under-performing after an injury layoff'. Look at Venus this year. That's the norm. It often takes players awhile to regain form after a prolonged layoff. Kim Clijsters would have to win Berlin to be performing at the same level as she was before taking time off for injury. Not many people expect this. (Serena, OTOH, is NOT the norm.)
But sometimes, players can't get heathly again for a long time. See Rubin, Pierce. But notice that once Chanda GOT heathy, she returned to the top ten.
didn't. But after years of repeated injury, it's easy to think that this is Mary Pierce's new level, and she'll never be an elite player again. She isn't 'in a slump'. She just isn't a top twenty player anymore. Like Conchi, who's been impressive this year, but simply not the force who was a perennial top ten player.
was bitten by the dreaded 'sex symbol curse'. Once people start declaring you a 'sex symbol', your game goes to hell. The only recent player to survive this is Serena. Possibly the Jehovah's Witness thing acts as a kind of garlic and holy water.
Schett was a solid top ten performer. Then her form disintegrated by no apparent reason, and she's never recovered. This is the classic case of looks like a slump, but never seems to end. If it doesn't end, it isn't a slump. It's been four years now.
was also struck by the 'sex synbol curse'. Iconcede to not understanding that, but she was clearing a girl who a lot of folks seemed to think was really sexy. She did the phot shotts and magazines and them bang! SMILOF Syndrome. (S
orm.) A lot of people have said things about her weight, but she's never going to be heavy. And she isn't showing the extreme emaciation of chronic anorexia. But a top five player simply fell apart, and now is ranked between #45 and #50. Her form has been gone for over a year.
makes it look like she might be coming around. But she holds up her ranking by playing 25+ tournaments a year. She's not close to the player she was. Again, it's been over a year. Far too long to put down to a mere 'slump', IMHO.
, OTOH, may actually have BEEN in a slump, is now out of it, and what we're seeing IS her. Her top ten ranking was achieved in a year when she won five Tier II tournaments. But her performance slid while she was ...shall we say, 'experimenting with an alternate lifestyle'. To a great extent, she's returned to form, but the TOUR has improved. She's the same player. But the game that made her #8 in 1999 is only good enough for a ranking between #16 and #20. Betweenthe time she was #8 and now, Venus Williams improves in enough to win four GS titles, Justine won three, Jenn three, Kim's been ranked #1, Amelie's become a solid top five player, Chanda Rubin's made her comeback, Anastasia Myskina and Elena Demetieva have become perennial top tenners, Petrova, Kuznetsova, and Zvonareva have all arrived, and Paola Suarez is making a run as a singles players.
I now it's kind of tough for fans to figure these things out in their faves. Earlier this year, I was wondering if Venus was going to spend all 2004 losing to non-top 20 players. Thank God she came around. But if you're healthy, and not coming close to equalling past performance, and it's been over a year, odds are good this is you, and not a 'slump'.