How Will They Fare Next Year?
Will she play the whole season? It's difficult to say. I can't help but feel Lindsay just isn't tough enough to win another major. She's had her chances; losing that Wimbledon final from being in a leading position the whole way through was not purely bad luck. And against Serena in the final of Melbourne last year she was simply pathetic. Like she'd been fearing Serena producing her best form all match, so she tried to take advantage of Serena's drama and poor shots while she had a chance. As soon as Serena started producing, Lindsay threw in the towel - as if she'd already decided she didn't have a chance.
Pierce and Sharapova's recent victories over her also cast doubts over whether she's still the best baseliner. I think she is, but does Lindsay? Davenport's a top professional, so I think she'll see out the year, or at least the summer if she's fit. But I don't rate her chances of adding another slam to her haul. There seems to always be one more player in the draw who's not more talented, as much as more willing to produce that little bit extra that's a requisite in heavy competition. She could already have won 7 or 8 slams had she produced her best form in more of those crucial matches; she's one of the best hitters since new rackets came into use, in my opinion. And that will be her legacy: a great professional, a wonderful hitter, incredible longevity - and 3 grandslam titles.
I think the only thing that could prevent Kim from winning another slam is her schedule. She plays far too often. I predict more injuries -- serious injuries -- unless she takes longer breaks and prepares for slams more astutely. But Clijsters is an athletic phenomenon, and if only she can avoid injuries I think she's going to be in the latter rounds of all the slams next year. Her game has no glaring weaknesses, and too many strengths for 90% of the tour.
I'm completely ambivalent about the girl. On one hand I can't bear the diva attitude to the sport that she adopts, a la Venus, Serena, Anna. "They're lucky to have me anywhere near their courts, let alone playing on it". That attitude is part of what's ruining the game.
But on the other hand, however much off-court posing she's done, she does seem to have the scruples to know that her young body needs to be preserved. Think of Hingis, Kournikova, the Belgians, and even the Williams sisters - all played too often as teenagers. And all are either finished or constantly worrying whether they'll be able to play again. In addition to Austin, Jaeger, and countless others, these injuries have blighted women's tennis for over 20 years now, and have been a major factor holding women's tennis back from being recognised as competitive.
Yet Maria is a player who won't be pressurised into anything; she's stubborn, and willing to take tough decisions that piss people off in order to do what she thinks is best. More than her playing style, that single-minded drive is what reminds me most of all of a young Seles.
I think Sharapova has every chance to win another slam next year. She's one of my main picks.
Well Novotna's 97 Chase victory followed by Wimbledon 98 is what first springs to mind. Mauresmo needs to play more aggressively than I've seen if she's to win a slam. I actually argued over the last few years that her inability to win slams was rooted in her innocuous game rather than her mentality per se: her game undermines her mind, rather than vice versa as is commonly assumed.
If she swings a bit more, as she did in 1999 and 2000, she'll win her first slam.
What do people think of Henin, or Pierce, or even Vaidisova, Hingis, Capriati?