I've always liked Flavia, in a kind of passing interest sort of way. But, I haven't seen her play all that much and never live. However, she's within striking distance of the top 10, a position I hadn't really expected her to reach. She doesn't have too much to defend early next season, until the clay Tier III and IV tournaments pick up, and has a fair amount of points locked in for another 9 months or so. How high do you all think she can climb? I hadn't pegged her for the top 10, but with Sharapova likely to slip a little in the spring (odds of another big win streak: slim) and the #11 spot only 100 points away, it's definitely something to be aware of. What's the verdict on Flavia Pennetta? What does she bring to the court that has pushed her this far?
On a slightly unrelated note, who was the last Italian top 10er? I know Farina Elia and Schiavone BOTH reached #11 at some point, but I'm struggly to remember any top 10 Italians in the past 10-15 years. Have there been any? I know a few men have gotten that high, but any women?
Oct 22nd, 2008, 03:29 AM
Several notes in this.
- I hated Flavia at first. Inconsistent counterpuncher prone to errors and bad temper tantrums. She just sounds like an awful conundrum, doesn't she? What she's doing different now is making far fewer errors (particularly off the FH) on big points and improved her serve and attitude. She's a real counterpuncher now, and actually doing it well, and she's a joy to watch because of it. Behind the errors was always a smart strategist and now that aspect of her game is shining. I love it.
- No Italian female in the top ten, ever.
- Top ten seems too far away unless she does something *fairly* drastic. 416 pts away from reaching Radwanska, but if she were to win Linz (275) and quartered in Melbourne (190+ net gain), and that's not including any tournament prior to Melbourne. It's possible, but she'd need another one or two really good results, and she has seven/eight really good results right now, and with an additional two more...she'd be a solid addition to the top ten, and Italy's first.
Oct 22nd, 2008, 06:21 AM
A few thoughts after a little more digging.
The game: Her serve has gotten much nicer, hasn't it? Even from earlier this year. I wonder if she's done some work on her footwork a little to help cut down the errors. Last season's videos that I have look a little sloppy in the footwork deparment, and my impression of her game currently is that she has very good footwork and balance.
Italians: I guess I had assumed Sandra Cecchini made it in at some point, and I mistake Virginia Ruzici (ROU) as Italian pretty much 50% of the time :lol: Thanks for the information.
The rankings: It just seems to me that of the 6 players within 500 points of #10 (Schnyder, Chakvetadze, Petrova, Pennetta, Hantuchova, and Wozniacki) only Schnyder, Pennetta, and Wozniacki have demonstrated the game for good results early in the season. Petrova prefers the extreme surfaces, and we know Chakvetadze and Hantuchova will slip after the AO. With Sharapova's first two months so strong, there could be an actual OPENING in the top 10 as soon as 3rd week of February. Plus, Zvonareva and Radwanska have more points to defend in the first two months than Schnyder, Pennetta, and Wozniacki.
So yes, I think she'll have to do something drastic, but she's going to be a top 16 seed at the AO, and I can easily see her taking out pretty much any top 8 player besides Jankovic and Serena at the AO, and those would hardly be beyond the realm of possibility. She has a game you'd expect to translate well to the slower hardcourts early in the season. It'll be interesting to see if she plays the South American clay circuit or goes to Dubai. Either choice could have a huge impact on her ranking, in either direction. And roughly 3/4 of Pennetta's points are locked in until the French Open. I think she could be a sleeper pick to creep into the top 10 right around BIG clay season. A little like Sugiyama in '04. I certainly hope so, too! She's quite good looking, in a very Mediterranean way.
Oct 22nd, 2008, 06:23 AM
And speaking of Linz, it helps a little that Radwanska and Petrova will have to play so early. Although Pennetta's draw is hardly beneficent, it's not brutal either.
Oct 23rd, 2008, 04:59 PM
And Pennetta is tearing up her quarter in Linz right now. Who knew she'd find such fine form indoors?