More impressive title run: STUTTGART 2012 or STUTTGART 2013?
Stuttgart 2012 remains my favorite Maria tournament, just in terms of performance, since the shoulder surgery. Her overall play throughout was, I thought, her best in the past 5 years. Her serve was on fire that week. And the level of competition was impressive. Defeating 3 top 10 players, who were all playing well, in a row was a great accomplishment. Coming back from match point down against Stosur to win was a huge moment not just in that match and tournament, but in Maria’s season. It propelled her to the final where she met her early 2012 nemesis, Vika. Her season could have gone downhill with a 4th straight finals loss. But Maria really elevated her game to an amazing level to crush the Extremely Injured Azarenka to win the title, starting her on her clay run.
This year’s Stuttgart certainly had a different feel. Maria’s game wasn’t as sharp as in 2012’s tourney. There were some rough patches in the first 3 rounds especially, but I loved watching her compete again and again in the face of adversity. On paper, going through Stosur/Kvitova/Azarenka looks more impressive than this year’s run. But I was amazed at how well Lucie, Ana, Angie, and Li all played collectively. They all brought their “A” game or close to it and never let up for a second against Maria. She really had to dig deep to earn the victories.
So maybe I’m being prisoner of the moment, but the drama of this year’s Stuttgart and seeing Maria play 9 hours of tennis over 4 straight days and overcoming so much to raise the trophy and win the car was a little more gratifying and rewarding to watch compared to last year. Amazing stuff.