What's Wrong with Nicole? Is there anything wrong with Nicole?
This year one could argue that Vaidisova has consolidated her position in the top ten, reaching the semi-finals in Australia (stretching Serena more than anybody else, in my opinion) and Sydney.
Yet I am disappointed because, with the exception of a superb win over Mauresmo in Paris last summer, when, on her own worst surface, Vaidisova comprehensively outplayed her opponent, she still has yet to defeat any of the top women, whom I would classify as Henin, Serena, Clijsters, Sharapova (who she's still yet to play). Moreoever, in the last year she has lost matches to top ten players who I would already rate Nicole above; namely Kuznetsova, Petrova, Hingis, Jankovic, and just recently has lost to a host of lower-ranked players.
Perhaps it would be ironic to criticise Nicole's slow progression when she has today lost to an 18 year-old, Krajicek, who was vaunted to be roughly of Vaidisova's calibre, but who is still languishing outside the top 50.
So, first of all, is Nicole really that good? I say yes. I have been hugely impressed by what I would rate as the cleanest and most deadly forehand in women's tennis, particularly from the way in which she can maintain a superb length in response to powerful drives. Nicole's backhand is more mechanical, but has developed into a considerable weapon with what are deceptively soft hands. In additoin, she possesses a service which is that of a champion, and, most impressively, she always appears in absolutely exemplary physical condition. Those broad shoulders combined with a svelte waistline and long legs form the embodiment of physical perfection in women's tennis. There is much scope for her movement, which is not a major weakness, to improve substantially.
It must be remembered that, at just turned 18, Vaidisova is still very young and has achieved much relative to peers in her age-group. Controversially, I would rate her already as a more formidable player than Maria at the same age, except that Maria had the mentality of a champion, had broken through in a barren year, and her reputation thereafer had preceded her in seeing her come through some tough matches. Nicole is yet to earn herself that reputation. And Venus Williams did not win a first slam until she was 20; it is worth remembering that, also.
But there is a decidedly growing feeling that Nicole has hit a plateau, along with a slew of other young starlets in women's tennis. She is not pushing forward, and, occasionally, appears to be slipping up against inferior opposition. I must confess that by now I would have expected her to be challenging the very pinnacle of the sport, with at least one tier 2 or above title and a number of scalps of top players under her belt.
Is there anything for admirers of Nicole to be concerned about?
Last edited by Steffica Greles; Apr 10th, 2007 at 11:09 PM.