Thanks for the great questions, SP!
1) What was Sam's best win of the year?
Tough one for me. Maybe in Charleston against Venus, but I think that's only because I really was wishing so much for it to happen. I don't know if that was a 'technically' spectacular win.
Not that it will get much mention as being "the best win", but I liked her win against Robson at the USO - nice and tidy 6-4 6-4 - but I probably liked it more because of the hype that Robson was getting...tall lefty, giant killer, dangerous dark horse in the field...all of these ingredients that sometimes make things fall apart for Sam. She didn't let it bother her - she just played her game, maintained her composure, and came out on top...the way her matches should be played.
2) What was Sam's worst loss of the year
Against Rus at Wimby. Should never have happened. I'm still not over it. I think it took place in some weird parallel universe that doesn't even exist. Yes, guys, this is what denial looks like.
3) What was Sam's best outfit of the year? (see next post for some help with this)
Yeah, like there was ever a doubt....GOAT LBD!!
With the grey/orange USO dress coming in a close second.
Asics has really done a great job with all of Sam's clothing this year. I hope their relationship continues.
4) What was Sam's most under-rated win of the year?
Sam defeating Sharapova in Tokyo 6-4 7-6(10), because it illustrated how Sam was able to win in 2 sets - with a tiebreak - and not crumbling or conceding the set under pressure. It also demonstrated her ability to silence the intimidation factor and use her weapons to get under Maria's skin. The fact that the match didn't go to 3 sets was a triumph in itself.
5) Which of Sam's losses were you most impressed with?
The USO match against Azarenka. Top-notch tennis from Sam, and both players walked away knowing that the final result could have just as easily been a win for Sam. It also sent a message that she can compete at a top-5 level.
6) What part of Sam's game has improved most throughout the year?
The trust she puts in her backhand. She used the bh very effectively this year, and although she was still running around it on several occasions, it would appear that she trusts it to a greater degree than in past years.
7) What would you like to see Sam work on in the future?
Her hustle/scramble. Getting to the ball faster so that she can maintain her timing with the groundstrokes and push her opponent around and out of their comfort zone. She might benefit from 'studying' Justine's ability to move around the court like Mighty Mouse and still stay on the offense. Many times when we saw Sam hitting balls on the move, it was in a defensive position and lacked the power/speed to put her opponents in an uncomfortable place. All the effort seemed wasted because she was fighting to keep the ball in play - not to set it up for a winner.
Also, I think she should work on the serve-volley. Toward the end of this year, we saw her trying it more but it lacked conviction...still it's a good way for her to stay in control if she can set up her points tactically.
8) What's the one match you wish Sam had won, that she didn't?
Errani at RG. Sam could have benefitted from such a win all year long by establishing some dominance on clay.
9) What was your favourite off-court Sam-related event of the year (e.g. press conference, picture, media piece, video, facebook message, dance routine)
Although it's not technically 'off-court', I love Bertrand's videos of Sam practicing at RG and Charleston. His dedication to making high quality videos of Sam is impressive. I watch them often.
Honorable mention to Sam's pic of the misspelling of 'weightlifting' in the Olympic Village and the ensuing comedy.
10) Imagine that Sam is in a tennis class at school and that you are her teacher. Write a brief report card assessing her performance this year
Sam has excelled in grace and class again this year. Her occasional bouts of Tennis Tourettes Syndrome are a healthy outlet for her frustrations and emotions, and it rarely requires anything more than a simple code violation to get her back on track. Her hard work, exemplary sportsmanship, and dedication are second to none. She sometimes allows her mind to be distracted by past events and self-deprecation. Although normal for most students, her self-judgement makes her prone to losing focus and not trusting herself.
If Sam wants to continue improving, I suggest that she seek some professional counseling - perhaps lessons on how to be a dominatrix - so that she can remain in control of opponents and points during her matches. A referral can be provided upon request.
She should continue to maintain excellent fitness and form, as it allows her to execute stunning kick serves and provides her fans with a splendid gun show. She should not allow herself to become distracted with social media, such as twitter, and she should distance herself from non-achieving troublemakers such as Redfoo and stick to trustworthy friends like Dave, Simmone, and Raj.
11) What do you predict in 2013 for Sam (ranking, tournaments, H2Hs with particular players etc.)?
Sam's H2H with Azarenka will improve drastically.
She will reach at least the QF of the AO.
She will win at Charleston (because I will be there to make sure it happens!).
She will beat Serena at least once this year.
She will reach a high ranking of #5.
(Ambitious, I know, but I have high hopes for my girl in 2013.)
@SilverPersian - I was thinking about your 173 views and 3 responses and it reminded me of my (failed) attempt at humor in the pics thread, captioning the pic with Eva before her Errani match at YEC that remained unnoticed and un-commented on. So I guess it's just the brooding, unhappy mood of Sammy fans at the moment. It will get better once everyone returns from their Zen gardens and pity parties.