Benedetti's Chances Almost Gone
Former Italian tennis supertstar, turned journey woman, Giuseppina Benedetti
streak may be over. The talented brunette had amassed 9 FWTT singles titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011. As a comparison, no other FWTT female won more than nine titles during that same time frame, with only tour superstar Ruflina Taliamanosoko
being able to match Benedetti's 9 titles. But getting title number ten has been no cakewalk for Giusa; since winning her 9th title in Cincinnati last season, Benedetti has thrice been thwarted of becoming a double digits title-ist, including twice in 2012. After once raising her ranking to number 3 in the world, being only a match win away from number 2, and a serious contender to finish 2010 as the number one player, Benedetti has suffered through two disappointing seasons. Some say that Giusa's well publicized eating habits have cost her valuable physical form. Others say that Benedetti simply wasn't that talented to begin with and just stumbled upon a couple of seasons of luck. Most would agree, though, that when she is playing well, Benedetti has shown to be a force on the clay, and is at least passable on the slower hardcourts.
Then there are those who attribute Giuseppina's slump to mental fragility. Again, much has been made in the media about the Italian's inability to peak in slams, despite often going in considered a contender. It is in this area that Benedetti feels she has improved most in 2012. With strong results at the Australian Open (QF) and Roland Garros (SF), it seemed to be outside of the grandslams where her game struggled this season. Still, though, her once plummeting ranking has found life, rising to a season high #16 at the start of last week. Giusa, ever the pessimist, is quick to write that off. Her flashy forehand has been inconsistent and her previously errorless retrieval has evaded her at times. She insists that her ranking is a mirage; the tour is weaker this year than in previous years, she contends.
Giuseppina's argument seems to hold credence. With numerous top players getting older and even announcing planned retirements, the field has seemed to fall off a bit. While the top few players still plug away and are playing well, the rest of the tour seems to have lost its game, as evidenced by long-time tour veteran Fleri Hingisafrilla
rising to the top. At 35, Fleri had been on the tour for ten years prior to this season. Those ten years had yielded her only 5 singles titles, although she was a constant force in the top 10 and 20. Her talents finally came to fruition in 2012, though, as she gobbled up two slams in shockingly impressive fashion. Benedetti, who is close friends with Hingisafrillia, says that this gives her hope. There is no time limit on winning a grandslam.
Still, though, Giusa has a long way to go. Not only does she need to figure out how to win a title again, but she also needs to figure out how to play consistently. With the season running down it is clear that former clay court queen will not be in the tour championships, her ranking is far too low for that. However, she can still cling to a faint hope that if she wins a title she can travel to the "B" championships. Former top 5 stars Marteena Huubere
, Nthama Mbangu
, and maybe even Taliamanosoko may be destined for the B championships as well, which look to be a gathering of the tour's veterans. Benedetti only hopes that Linz brings her the luck to punch her ticket to the old ladies' show. The road seems unlikely, as Benedetti opens with American Susan Day
and would likely play Hingisafrillia in the 2nd round if she were to win.