The Sorana Cirstea Question
by Ben Rothenberg on Mar 26, 2010
In the summer of 2009, Sorana Cirstea looked poised to become the new tennis "It Girl." With Ana Ivanovic vacating her throne through a prolonged spell of poor results, the19-year old Romanian had the game, the exotic origins, and the looks to fill that void.
A surprising run to the quarterfinals of the French Open made Cirstea look like an even surer bet to be the next big thing. She was unseeded and ranked outside the top forty, but upset both Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic before losing to Samantha Stosur. The rest of her summer wasn't spectacular, but it did include wins over quality opponents like Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, and Agnieszka Radwanska, all of which came during a run to the semifinals in Los Angeles.
Cirstea went into the 2009 US Open with a career high ranking and seed of #24. She lived up to that seed, but fell in the third round to Wozniacki.
From then on, it's been a rough ride for her. Cirstea failed to win another match the rest of 2009, going 0-5 and dropping out of the top thirty. Her early 2010 has been not much better, seeing her post a record of 3-8 that includes wins over #92 Kaia Kanepi and #142 Olivia Rogowska, neither of whom are particularly important feathers in anyone's cap. She has been bageled twice, by Melanie Oudin and Sharon Fichman, neither of whom are known for dominating matches on a regular basis.
Last night in Miami was another loss for Cirstea, albeit a respectable 6-4, 6-3 loss to #3 Venus Williams, who remains my pick to win this tournament. But a respectable loss is still a loss, a pattern which is becoming more and more prevalent in Cirstea's career.
So what happened to derail Cirstea's shooting star? It could be any number of things. Seeing a player she's beaten like Caroline Wozniacki Cirstea's game also never built in any real margin for error, meaning that even a slight loss of form could mean that everything is completely off. She had a fairly slow start to last year as well, but as she played more she got into a rhythm that eventually hit its peak at the French Open. But is that the one peak Sorana Cirstea will experience in her entire career?
It may seem cruel to say that this player who is still a teenager for another couple weeks may already have peaked, but that's the way tennis works.
I now turn the question over to you--Is Sorana Cirstea's best ahead of her, or already behind her?