I've only been following JJ's career since Australian Open, so I don't know too much about her career before that. Was she a better player this year than the same time last year? How was she viewed within the tennis community? It seems she was at least considered a contender to win the French Open or Wimbledon. From what I've read recently though (in GM), people don't seem to have much confidence in her ability to a GS. What changed between then and now?
bluehaze - this is just the way I see it. Others here will know more than me:
I think she has slipped back a bit from how she was playing a year ago - but some of this was inevitable. One major problem has been as has beeen mentioned - Jelena exhausted herself towards the end of last year overplaying.
But in GM I think there's a temptation to hype up a player to ridiculous extremes when they win and to denigrate a player saying they should retire when they lose. It would be lovely if Jelena could win a slam. But I don't think anyone would have believed the improvement she has made since winning Rome in 2006 back then. And now they are slating her for not having a slam. I don't think it's likely she'll win a slam right now. There are a few players better than her. But I didn't think she'd win a slam last year either - players then that were better than her. But what I don't do is forget the fantastic improvement she has made in the last 2 years to get up to #3.
She did have breathing problems last year - and that has set her plans back a bit this year. It really was a must to get that fixed so she had surgery on her nose at the end of 2007 in the off season. But that's put her back for this year - 2008. First it meant she had no preparation. And then she got injuies right left and centre on all parts of her anatomy as well. She did amazing as it was to make the semis - beating Serena - at the AO with her injuries.
So far in 2008 - she hasn't had much rest to get over them like we've been wanting her to do. She had a break for a couple of weeks - but that was about it. But she says she's over them now. There's a bit of a dilemma because she's been saying some of her bad results are because she's not fit enough with the time she's lost. And so she needed to add a tournament to get fitter. On the other hand - that seems dangerous with her injuries and her overplaying last year. Nevertheless she was smiling a lot at IW and played much better there beating opponents in the early rounds much more easily.
Her loss against Ana - if you read her interview afterwards - she's spot on as to why and what she needs to improve: Serve and return in 2nd set and stop being completely erratic in tie breaks. She also knows (and can take heart in) she had the better of it if she got into rallies. With working on those areas and if she could get a coach she got on well with (and she's looking really hard) - there really is room for her to get better.
But right now - I'm not too upset if she loses to Ana. She's not expected to win and Ana is the better player right now. Not many other players are better. I'm hoping that's something that will change for Jelena. But I'm looking for small steps at a time. The Marion's and Anna's and Na Li's who have been beating her lately. She's better than them. And after IW I really would like to see herself establish herself over players like these.
In summary - yes I think she's gone back a bit. But I am hopeful she'll get better. But I'm not getting my hopes up for spectacular improvements - just steady progress.