Re: GOATPova returns to stay undefeated in Doha!
I think expectations are way too high for Maria to perform well again on clay. If you asked her right now, I'd bet she'd still say it's her weakest and least favorite surface to play on. Everything just seemed to come together perfectly for her last year in those 3 tournaments. All aspects of game were on, especially her serve in Stuttgart. And she had that great draw unfold for her at the French, which, like Vika this year in Melbourne, she took advantage of. Plus, I think Maria was extra determined and motivated after those 3 finals losses to start the year. If she wins just one clay court title this year, I'd be ecstatic.
But hard court remains her bread and butter and she needs to end this drought on it as soon as possible. It's still the surface that suits her the best. Now if Maria goes out there and proves once and for all that she really is Claypova, Dirtballer Extraordinaire, then I'd gladly admit I was wrong. It would be one of most incredible transformations and stories in the history of tennis if Maria did actually become strictly a clay court specialist at this stage of her career.