Let's Look Ahead To 2004
Since the 2003 season is winding down, we might as well look forward to 2004 and see what will happen to the top players, who to watch, who we shouldn't watch and if there are any up-and-comers we should be pay attention to:
The Belgians (Kim and Justine)
Yes, Kim and Justine were the best players of 2003, but will they be able to bring that sucess int 2004? It should be noted that they made the move to number one without the then current nubmer one (Serena Williams) in action and dominated the summer hardcourt season without any of the top Americans playing. However, they both did very well in the claycourt season before they started their dominance of the tour and that is where they have to start defending the points they earned and if the past two years are any indication, they both will lose a good deal of those points and slide in the rankings, but not that fiar down. The one who has more to lose is Justine since she won two Grand Slams and four Tier I tournaments and if the Williams sisters are back at 100%, they, especially Venus, have the chance to upset her at key tournaments, especially ones on grass and hardcourt.
The Williams Sisters; Will They Be Back?
Though Serena won two Grand Slams and a Tier I, she missed the rest of the season after Wimbeldon to have a needed operation on her knee. She wisely waited to come back in 2004, but the question is will she be able to play as well as she did and will she be able to defend her two Grand Slams? Because she hasn't played since July, it is too early to tell, but if she has recovered fully from her sugery, she should have solid results and will stay in the top 5, maybe return to number one. Venus, however, is another story. She strained her abominal muscle in early May and didn't give it time to heal as she should have and was only able to play two tournaments after that and then didn't play the rest of the season, falling in the rankings from 2 at the beginning of the year to number 11. Because she played the least amount of tournaments of all players in the current top ten, she has the most to gain in 2004, including defending her gold medal win from the 2000 Olympics, but does she have the desire to win again and will she have recovered from her injury? She says she is close to 100% recovered and ready to come back. If she is the Venus of 2000 after she came back from a long injury layoff, the rest of the tour is in trouble, but if she is the Venus of the past two years who could get to the final of a Slam but not win, then she has a good chance to get back into the top five, but little chance of getting bakc to number one. She should also consider playing more tournaments, at most 18, if she wants to stay healthy, including more Tier I's.
The Russians: They Came, But Will They Stay?
2003 saw the charge of the Russinas into the Top 50. At the present time, I belive there are nine Russians in the topp 50, four in the top 20 and two in the top Ten. There is at least one player that should crack the top 50 (Safina) and there are probably a few up and comers that will make noise in 2004. Having said that, the only two Russians I see even having a chance to win a Grand Slam in the near future is Nadia Petrova (currently number 12) and Maria Sarapova (currently number 31). That is because they have the type of game that can challenge the top players, but both must work on their serves if they are to ever be Grand Slam material. The others are just too streaky and do not have the type of games to either be top ten matieral or win a Grand Slam.
The French: Will Amelie Finally Make Some Noise and Will Sandrine Come Back?
Though injuries kept her out of two Grand Slams and other tournaments, Amelie solid play, espeically after the summer hardcourt season, will gurarntee her a year-end rank of no lower than 5. The question is will she be able to finally get to the final of a Grand Slam for the first time since 1999? Or will she be able to do better at her home Grand Slam, where a woman born and raised in France has not won since 1967?
Then there is Sandrine Testud. The Frenchwoman left the game for good after she lost at Wimbeldon in 2002, revealing she was pregnant with her first child. However, she has revealed recently that she is going to return to the game in 2004 and has been playing small tournaments. The question is, since she is in her mid 30's, can she get back in to top 100, much less the top 30, which is her goal? We will have to see.
The Veterans: Jennifer, Lindsay, Monica, Mary and Chanda
These verterans, execpt Monica, had a pretty decent 2003, but the question is will they be able to come back in 2004 to be able to play against the younger players. As of this time next year, Chanda, Jennifer and Lindsay will be 28, Mary will be 29 and Monica will be 30. Monica will be coming off a long injury layoff, Lindsay will be coming back from foot sugery and Jennifer and Mary have fitness issures to deal with before the new season starts. The other question is that will these players be able to win the big tournaments (Grand Slams and Tier 1's). Considering the young talent just in the top 30, the only person I see even having a chance is Jennifer and that chance is slim at best. I also see next year as the last for Monica if she cannot get over the stress fracture in her left foot or get other injuries.
The Return of Martin Hingis?
ESPN's Pam Shriver announced that Martina is going to give tennis one more try in 2004. The question is whether or not she has completely gotten over her ankle injury which has threatened to curtail her stellar career and can compete with the Williams sisters, the Belgians and the rising Russians. We don't know when she will play her first tournament, but most likely it will not be the Austrailian Open, which start in about 10 weeks, but we will have tosee.
Players to watch in 2004 (these players were picked because of their rise in the rankings or fall in the rankings to see if they can rebound):
Players not to watch in 2004 (I have lost any hope that these players can ever do anything with their careers):
Last edited by lizchris; Nov 9th, 2003 at 03:14 AM.