Dear WTA Players

by Karen

Dear WTA Players.

What an absolutely wonderful event you staged at Roland Garros over the past two weeks.  You ladies kept me glued to my computer screen and you actually made me late for work a few mornings.  On many occassions while I was at work, I was unable to watch matches, and so, for the first time in a long while, I actually had to go home and watch matches that had already been concluded during the course of the day’s event.

Your tournament was so good that I actually had to subscribe to additional channels because I just did not want to miss one ball during this 2 week event.  And I don’t even like clay season all that much.

However, and this where I am a little bit annoyed at you ladies.  I know your champion is an outlier.  I know that she is not very popular amongst her peers (hello, Judy Murray cheered on Naomi Broady when she went after her). I know she has a temper, but come on, did no one watch the final?  Did none of you get up out of your beds, no matter where you were in the world, and watch the match?  OK, so maybe it isn’t about Ostapenko.  Maybe it is about Halep, her opponent?  Maybe you were disgusted at Halep’s comments about equal pay?  If so, I can understand.  There were 2 of your colleagues playing that you don’t really like and so, you never even bothered to tune in … but … and here is where there is a big but … you ladies don’t even seem to do the same thing for Serena Williams either.

What is about the WTA athletes where congratulating an athlete on an accomplishment seems to go against some competitiveness etc. I know you ladies congratulate people and I know you ladies watch tennis matches.  The proof was the next day when you were all out in your numbers congratulating Rafael Nadal on winning 10 Roland Garros titles. See, this is where I sometimes don’t get the thought process behind who you ladies choose to watch and for whom you choose to show your support.

I have read interviews where some of you say that you don’t watch women’s tennis.  Where you say that you can’t think of having a female coach.  Where you think having a coach coming down court side to provide guidance is a good thing.  I get the mind set, but again, how does that benefit your sport?  There are men on the ATP who don’t agree that women should get paid the same as the men.  I can’t imagine why you would care to support someone whose thought processes are still stuck in the dark ages.  I don’t get it.  Help me out here.

Anyway, your Roland Garros champion is a joy.  She is young, athletic, disarming and very engaging.  Hopefully, you ladies can see fit to show her some love via social media (even if she isn’t on Twitter).

Thoughts

  • how great was it to see Jelena Ostapenko introduce herself to the tennis world.  54 winners, most of them from that huge forehand (and don’t forget her backhand) in the final and 289 winners overall.  She showed more than anything what belief really is.  Congratulations Jelena.
  • Simona Halep needs to rethink her life and her life choices.  Get rid of Darren Cahill.  He is a terrible coach.  There is nothing wrong with you getting emotional.  If it helps you in your every day life, I say go for it.  If smashing a racquet and cursing in Romanian get you through a match, then do it.  You are not a child and your coach is not your parent.
  • Caroline Wozniacki, please take a leaf out of Ostapenko’s book and ditch your dad as a coach.  You are back in the top 10 but you have done so by playing careful tennis. If you want to win that Major, you are going to have to change your mind set when it comes to your game and just go for it.  You did it earlier in the year but you have regressed.  Sort it out.
  • Angelique Kerber  (no words)
  • Elina Svitolina – not my pick to win but you don’t have match points, lose a tight tiebreak and then disappear in the third set.  Not for a place in the French Open.  You don’t do that.

I am sure that many have already put forward their thoughts on Ostapenko being coached by a woman.  What I loved about this is the story behind it.  Ostapenko is/was coached by her mother, also named Jelena.  The team decided that it might be a good thing to get another voice to work with the younger Jelena during the clay season.  The older Jelena took a backseat and allowed the coach that had been employed to work her magic.  The fact that the coach in question, Anabel Medina had no prior coaching history (at least none of which I am aware), and was only available because she has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, is a testament to both Jelenas having the wisdom to actually know their limitations and putting a plan in place to ensure that they brought in someone wiser and smarter than they were (Wozniacki, please take note of this).

All in all I enjoyed this year’s French Open.  My faves never got near the title but I am quite ecstatic at this new generation.  They are hitting fearlessly and cleanly and I for one am loving it.

 

I HAVE A SADZ

It has been sometime since I wrote about tennis.  I have tried writing a few times but there seems to be a bit of a writer’s block  that is happening to me.  I think this has to do with the fact that I am disgusted by the sport and the efforts that seem to be at play  in making women’s tennis seem like a second class citizen to the men’s game.
The Australian Open women’s final gained its highest viewership in quite some time with the final featuring Venus and Serena Williams.  While I was giddy at Venus making the final, I did become a bit disappointed that she was not able to cross the finish line ahead of her sister, but as some of my tennis buddies have said, a Williams won, so that is all that matters.
The WTA should have been riding that euphoric high all throughout the season, but then we recalled the news that the online streaming platform TennisTV would no longer be broadcasting women’s tennis.  There began a fight amongst tennis watchers to figure out how to watch the women’s game.  Some of us have figured it out but it has been like seeking for gold in them there mountains.
As I am writing this we are in the midst of the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and while I have barely watched any of the women’s matches, from my social media timeline I can see that folks both in the US and outside the US are experiencing problems in watching the women’s portion of this event.  I live outside the US and I have ESPN Play.  While that platform does have Indian Wells on, there are no women’s matches being shown.  As part of my Dish Network package, I do have Tennis Channel, but as the only women’s matches they are showing are American women, I have decided to not tune in (except for Venus from time to time).
When someone is unable to view your sport, it decreases interest.  I was out of the office on Monday and Tuesday of this week and rather than sit at a computer screen watching tennis, I chose to sit in front of my 55” Samsung Smart TV and binge watch Bones on Netflix.  I am a diehard supporter of the women’s game, if I prefer to watch Netflix rather than find a livestream which may be dodgy at best to watch women’s tennis, then I can’t imagine  how those fans who only have a passing interest in the women’s game are faring. Why are we still struggling to watch the women’s game in 2017?
The other issue that has left me repeatedly angry and depressed is the return of Maria Sharapova to professional tennis.  For those who have been living under a rock, Ms. Sharapova will be coming off a 15 month ban for a doping offence.  As a result of this doping ban she will not have a ranking when she returns next month.  The issue that has stirred up quite a bit of controversy is Stuttgart granting Sharapova a wild card while she is banned for a doping offence. In order to facilitate the wildcard, the event has scheduled her first match at the tournament a day after her doping ban ends.   As we say in the legal field, the Stuttgart organisers have endured the letter of the law, if not the spirit.

Angelique Kerber, the current No. 1 has taken the view that awarding Sharapova a wild card has taken away the opportunity from a German who could perhaps use that wild card to advance her career.  I agree.  Following Stuttgart’s lead, both Madrid and Rome announced that they have awarded Ms. Sharapova a wild card into their events.  In addition, the French Tennis Federation has announced that Ms. Sharapova has reached out to them and has met with that organisation to secure a wildcard into the French Open this year.  Both the FFT and the AELTC have adopted a wait and see approach regarding requests for a wild card from the Sharapova camp.

Many may have forgotten that at the ITF hearing, Ms. Sharapova’s team stated that:

“It is argued that any period of ineligibility would disproportionately affect Ms Sharapova in causing her a very substantial loss of earnings and sponsorships, exclusion from the 2016 Olympics, and irreparable damage to her reputation. There is nothing unfair in the rules being fairly and equitably applied to this player as to any other athlete subject to the WADA Code, whether professional or amateur. The rules are clear in stating:  “ … the fact that a Player would lose the opportunity to earn large sums of money during a period of Ineligibility, or the fact that the Player only has a short time left in his or her career, or the timing of the sporting calendar, would not be relevant factors to be considered in reducing the period of Ineligibility under Article 10.5.1 or 10.5.2.” The rules cannot be circumvented by invoking the principle of proportionality. It would be contrary to the principles underlying the code, in particular respect for the rules which must apply equally to all, to allow an unprincipled exception to or waiver from the rules on the grounds of proportionality of sanction as it affects the particular circumstances of this player.”

I know that many people have taken exception to the ITF’s ruling and it would seem as if Ms. Sharapova and her team are more determined to pick up where they left off in terms of the money that can be made by Ms. Sharapova.

For years we have heard about Ms. Sharapova’s fighting spirit.  We have heard about her capacity for hard work and her mental toughness.  We have also heard about her ability to come back from adversity and how important it is for her to play tennis.  I therefore have a few thoughts on a comeback that would be so much better for her image (which seems to be everything) and would be a guaranteed path to Hall of Fame glory.

·         Play the ITF Challenger/Futures circuit – how fitting would it be for an icon of the sport to highlight the plight of players who play the Challenger/Futures circuit? I recall watching Challenger tennis when Nicole Vaidisova was staging her comeback to tennis.

·         Play qualifying events.  It would show Ms. Sharapova’s capacity for hard work.  If she fails to make it through qualifying, try and go in as a lucky loser.  With her skill set she would be able to vanquish her opponents.  Recall 2007 when Serena Williams who was ranked 81 when won the Australian Open

·         Recently, Francesca Schiavone, a decorated athlete who has made her mark on the sport in more ways than one played qualifying at the Australian Open.  Schiavone has represented herself and her country and has been at the forefront of one of the most dynamic Fed Cup teams in history.  She will probably need a wild card to play in her home tournament in Rome later this year.  Why not take a page from that book?

I, like many tennis fans, love to hear and see a comeback story.  One of the reasons why  most people hate on court coaching is that it seems to give an unfair advantage to the player who calls their coach down mid match.  This is how I and I know many others view this wild card situation with Ms. Sharapova.  We view it as her being given an unfair advantage, in much the same way that her use of meldonium gave her an unfair advantage.

It is a smack in the face of other players who have played fairly for all their careers, to now be tasked with competing against a player who is being given a leg up because of who she is or who she used to be.  How Sharapova returns to the sport she claims to love can either elevate or damage its reputation. It would do the tennis a world of good if they helped Sharapova do the former rather than the latter. However, I suspect that like Sharapova, they will let money rather than integrity guide their decisions.

FRENCH OPEN DAY 3 RESULTS AND DAY 4 PICKS AND PANS

Day 3 Results and Day 4 Picks and Pans
Some of the matches in the bottom half of the draw were cancelled due to the weather in Paris today.  Matches to recommence tomorrow include Azarenka and Kvitova. 
Of the 20 matches scheduled for Day 3 on the ladies’ side, only 10 matches were completed. Of the 10 completed matches, Spin had a 60% success rate.  The matches which are to be completed tomorrow are:-
Klara Zakopalova [23] vs Kaia Kanepi
Stefanie Voegele vs Heather Watson
Ashleigh Barty vs Lucie Hradecka
Nina Bratchikova vs Maria Kirilenko
Sandra Zahlavova vs Annika Beck
Elena Vesnina vs Victoria Azarenka [3]
Petra Kvitova [7] vs Aravane Rezai
Shuai Peng vs Camila Giorgi
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova vs Yanina Wickmayer
Jamie Hampton vs Lucie Safarova [25]
Spin’s picks are highlighted in red.
Spin’s Day 4 Picks and Pans are below.  Spin’s Picks are in red.
Serena Williams v Caroline Garcia –the World’s No. 1 is on a mission, but the young upstart will have the French crowd behind her all the way.  This is the last match scheduled on Chartrier
Johanna Larsson v Sorana Cirstea – she proved me wrong in the first round. Let us see what happens going forward
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Petra Cetkovska – she battled hard to get through her first match.  Maybe she has learned something
Galina Voskoboeva v Roberta Vinci– I will take the veteran
Caroline Wozniacki v Bojana Jovanovski – rematch of Rome when Woz led 4-0 in the third set
Magdalena Rybarikova v Svetlana Kuznetsova – Sveta seems to be playing the tennis that we all know that she is capable of producing when she took down Makarova
Varvara Lepchenko v Elina Svitolina – Lepchenko seems to be trying to prove something … I can play tennis
Jana Cepelova v Angelique Kerberanother player who wants to make a statement
Agnieszka Radwanska v Mallory Burdette  – Aga will prove to be too consistent for Burdette
Dinah Pfizenmaier v Urszula Radwanska – has Ula recovered from her big win over Venus? If she has she may take out her opponent, but I don’t think so
Zuzana Kucova v Virginie Razzano– is Razzano ready for the third round? Last year after taking out Serena she fell in the very next round
Mathilde Johansson v Ana Ivanovic– after a letdown in the second set, she rebounded and won her first round match. Look for her to maintain that focus in this match, that is if she does not let the partisan crowd get to her
Monica Puig v Madison Keys – battle of the youngsters. While I would ordinarily pick Keys, she showed that she has huge lapses in concentration, something that her opponent does not show. Look for Puig to make it to the next round
Shelby Rogers v Carla Suarez Navarro– CSN seems to be on a mission.  Her consistency will overwhelm the young American
Sabine Lisicki [32] v Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor – even though Sabine won her first round match convincingly I am still not sold on her clay court prowess. Look for the Spaniard to take advantage of her lack of movement on this surface.

Yulia Putintseva v Sara Errani [5] – I am calling the upset here.  Yulia is a fighter and she will get under Errani’s skin. 

French Open Day Results and Day 2 Picks and Pans

Day 1 Results (Spin’s Results are in Blue).  Of the 16 first round matches played today, Spin had a 68.75% accuracy rate.  Good going for the first day of play.

Serena Williams [1] v Anna Tatishvili
Caroline Garcia [WC] v Yuliya Beygelzimer [Q]
Sorana Cirstea[26] v Kiki Bertens
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [19] v Andrea Hlavackova
Petra Cetkovska v Olga Puchkova
Galina Voskoboeva [Q] v Grace Min [Q]
Mallory Burdette v Donna Vekic
Mandy Minella v Dinah Pfizenmaier [Q]
Venus Williams [30] v Urszula Radwanska
Virginie Razzano [WC] v Claire Feuerstein [WC]
Ana Ivanovic [14] v Petra Martic
Nadia Petrova [11] v Monica Puig
Irena Pavlovic [WC] v Shelby Rogers
Sabine Lisicki [32] v Sofia Arvidsson
Ayumi Morita v Yulia Putintseva
Sara Errani [5] v Arantxa Rus


Day 2 Picks and Pans are below.  Spin’s Picks are in red. 
Na Li [6] vs Anabel Medina Garrigues – tough one but Li should pull through in straights
Su-Wei Hsieh vs Maria Sharapova [2] 
Agnieszka Radwanska [4] vs Shahar Peer – how is the shoulder feeling Aga?
Caroline Wozniacki[10] vs Laura Robson – big match but Woz should pull through
Stephanie Foretz-Gacon vs Roberta Vinci [15] – 2 veterans but Vinci is playing great tennis
Flavia Pennetta vs Kirsten Flipkens [21] – Flavia, if only because Flipper does not do clay very well
Chanelle Scheepers vs Mathilde Johansson – home crowd advantage 
Mona Barthel vs Angelique Kerber [8] – battle of the Germans. Mona has been MIA but is Kerber  healthy?
Julia Goerges [24] vs Zuzana Kucova – how is Julia’s wrist? If healthy should be fine
Melinda Czink vs Francesca Schiavone – veteran battle, but Fran with memories should pull through
Simona Halep vs Carla Suarez Navarro [20] – this was a tough one as both ladies are playing really well
Varvara Lepchenko[29] vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni – when Lucic is on she is devastating. this will be a battle
Eugenie Bouchard vs Tsvetana Pironkova – Bouchard has been playing great tennis recently. Should be a good one
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs Bojana Jovanovski – this will be a battle to the death or an easy victory for the Serb
Jie Zheng vs Vesna Dolonc – Zheng has been having good results on the clay
Tatjana Maria vs Paula Ormachaea – have not seen the young Argentine since the USO qualies last year.  Should be a good battle
Madison Keys vs Misaki Doi – Keys in straights
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Ekaterina Makarova – this was a tough one as Sveta should have great memories of her victory here 
Pauline Parmentier vs Magdalena Rybarikova – again, another tough one but the French woman will prevail
Karin Knapp vs Sloane Stephens [17] – has Sloane got her head sorted out? We will see
Jana Cepelova vs Christina McHale – Same for McHale?  is she healthy?
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor vs Julia Glushko – the young Spaniard impressed recently in Madrid, losing a tough 3 setter.  Look for her to play lights out here in Paris
Karolina Pliskova vs Garbine Muguruza – the young Spaniard has impressed everyone with her fight on hard courts. She was beaten handily by Sharapova in Rome recently.  Remains to be seen how she does against an opponent who does not have the weapons of Sharapova
Monica Niculescu vs Johanna Larsson – the wily Romanian will outfox the defender
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Lourdes Dominguez Lino – this is a toss up as BMS has been playing great on clay, however, Lino will frustrate but BMS should be able to come through
Vania King vs Alexandra Cadantu – Vania came through qualifying and is match tough but I just don’t see her getting past Cadantu
Romina Oprandi vs Elina Svitolina – the wily veteran lost a tough 3 setter in Brussels. Look for her to make amends here
Tamira Paszek [28] vs Melanie Oudin – I am shocked that Tamira is ranked that high enough to be actually seeded. I think Oudin takes her out in straights. 

The Match that Broke my Heart on Day 1 

She served to take a 5-4 lead in the first set and got broken. She was 0-4 down in the second set tiebreak after serving for the second set on 2 occassions and having set points.  She was 5-1 down in the third set and stared defeat in the face. She eventually lost the match 5-4 in the third against Ula Radwanska, but today Venus Ebony Starr Williams showed us that when healthy, or even something remotely resembling healthy, it will take a special player to bring her down, and bring her down without a fight. 

Those of us who watched the match from beginning to end stood and applauded the shots from both ladies.  While I am still upset that she lost, I can only bow down to the younger Radwanska as she never gave up and she continued to fight. 

For her part, the veteran holder of 7 Grand Slam singles titles, too many other singles titles to mention, Olympian extraordinaire and fighter of life and tennis in general showed us why the women deserve to be paid equally with the men.  For over 3 hours she showed why she is a threat despite not being at her best. 

Venus, this fan salutes you.  My only hope is that you continue to play until I get to see you on the green lawns of Wimbledon. You did well. 



TENNIS BROKEN RECORDS

Pete Sampras – 14 Grand Slam titles.  Most of all time. Broken
Roger Federer – 21 straight Grand Slam semifinals.  Most in the Open Era.  Broken
Serena Williams – 46 straight Grand Slam victories in the first round of Majors.  Broken
The third item in this list is one of the most significant and underrated achievements in all of tennis. Much like the story of Serena Williams.  At times glorified, but most of the time vilified by tennis pundits (who wish they could be her). By tennis fans (because of what she has done to their faves) and general disliked because of the colour of her skin, Serena Williams has made her mark in the world of tennis, so much so that today when she lost her opening round match on Court Philip Chartier, it was Breaking News by every major news network in the world.  That is the power of Serena Williams.
I watched this match from beginning to end with points in between when I turned it off as I, like most fans of  Serena Williams, became disconsolate at her performance during this match. Looking back you could tell that something was not right with Serena. 
If you are a fan of this woman you know her history.  You know what she brings to the court of tennis. You know her aura and you know her game.  Every player in the locker room knows it as well. If you want to beat Serena, you don’t listen to the pundits. You don’t listen to the coaches.  You don’t listen to the noise. You listen to yourself.  You close your eyes and you swing for the fences, and you pray to whatever deity that you believe in that Serena is off her game by just a notch, and you will hear your name echoed for all the ages.
The French Open has not been a pleasant stomping ground for Serena.  She won this title in 2002 on her way to the Serena Slam (holding all 4 Majors though not in a calendar year).  Since that victory, she has only made it to the semifinals one time since then where she lost to Justine Henin in a hard fought match, where it was revealed by Henin that yes she did cheat to win that match.
Serena lost that match to a chorus of boos and jeers from the French crowd, and if there is ever any doubt that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a disease or not evident amongst professional tennis player, one need only look at Serena’s career at Roland Garros.
If she wins, it is greeted with a smattering of applause.  If she loses it is met with resounding cheers.
Today, 29 May 2012, in her first round match, Serena, for the first time in her career lost in the first round of a Major.  She lost to Virginie Razzano, a French player ranked 111 in the world and who has herself seen tragedy, having lost her fiancée/coach last year to cancer.
After the match, Serena walked across the net and shook her opponent’s hand. I will not recap the match here as I am sure that everyone in tennis land has seen it, but suffice it to say that Serena could have played a lot better and Virginie could not have played any better than she did.
Is this the end for Serena? I doubt it. She showed an amazing sense of calmness in her post-match press conference.  She did not seem too perturbed by it. It was a bit as if she was almost too accepting of her loss.
Since her return to competitive tennis after her life threatening illness, Serena has seemed a bit complacent in relation to the Majors.  She has taken some hard losses since her return, but what has been lost in the equation is the way how her opponents have played.  The media would like us to think that Serena has lost her aura.  I say that the media needs to stop and take stock of the way in which Serena has lost.  Players have had to bring their A+ games in order to dethrone Serena.
Today, Serena fought and she fought hard.  She was not on her game, but that does not take away the fact that Razzano, with the French crowd solidly behind her did what 46 other women before her could not do.  She defeated Serena Williams in the first round of a Major for the first time in her stellar career.  Does this mean that Serena Williams is done.  No. All it means is that Wimbledon is a few weeks away and by that time Serena’s game should have caught the flight from Florida and made its way to  Europe.
OTHER STUFF
Today, Maria Sharapova had a practice session on Suzanne Lenglen. Alexandra Cadantu needs to join the Futures circuit.  She has no business playing on the WTA Tour. Fans joked on twitter that Cadantu told Sharapova thank you at the net.  Some joked that they were sure that Sharapova passed her $20.00 for the practice session.  I wonder if fans asked for their money back.  They probably should.
Tennis writers really need to chill out a bit.  It is only tennis.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame needs to continue its investigation of Bob Hewitt, and preferably remove him from the Hall of Fame pending its investigation.  If you agree, sign this Petition and make the suffering that these women endured at the hands of a man who “carried a tin of Vaseline” with him whenever he went on coaching sessions with young girls go away. 
Venus Williams is a Legend.  There is no denying that.  She is the epitomy of what a champion of this sport is.  As someone who also suffers with an anti-immune disease I can relate to what Venus is currently enduring.  Stay strong my champ.
I personally find Mary Carillo and Martina Navratilova to be 2 of the most negative and least influential in the sport of tennis, with Pam Shriver running a close third.  Neither Carillo or Navratilova have contributed to the development of women’s tennis in the way that Billie Jean King has done.  Their negative views on the state of women’s tennis leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The constant chattering about the shrieking/grunting etc of professional female athletes, leaves me to think that they have nothing else to talk about, or they just want to be one of the boys.   Say something positive about women’s tennis or shut up.
Venus plays her second round match tomorrow against Radwanska.  That is the only match that I am interested in.  Go Venus!!!

LI, NA, WTA PLAYER OF THE YEAR

I have tried on several occasions to write the second in our series on contenders for the WTA: Player of the Year. You would think with 4 different Slam winners, 3 of them first time winners, that it would be easy to write the narrative for these awesome women of the WTA, and especially the narrative for Li Na, but this has been without a doubt the most difficult post I have ever written.

I think one of the reasons why I am finding it so difficult to write about Li is that I am intrigued and confused about Li. I have always been unimpressed with her style of play. There does not seem to be much imagination to her game, and her attitude on court leaves a lot to be desired. However, her press conferences and the paths that she has taken to winning her first Grand Slam title and being the first player from China to win a Grand Slam title has left me being intrigued and admiring of that aspect of her persona.

However some of her recent utterances have left me shaking my head in disgust as for a woman to basically imply that the women of the WTA are not as mentally tough as the men leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I understand that there is a level of sexism that permeates the narrative about women’s tennis. It is either they are all lesbians; they are on steroids; or as some would say they are so muscular as to not even look feminine, the commentary about the women of the WTA has not always been, to put it politely, very tennis friendly.

However, when a champion such as Li, a champion who has overcome so many personal obstacles in her own life, to now be ranked as one of the biggest stars of the WTA, a signal of hope for a country’s women and a player who will now find herself in the conversation every time she enters a tournament, her recent utterances leave a lot to be desired and really sets back the progress that have been made by Billie Jean and the Gang of Nine in seeking equality and recognition for female professional tennis players.

In reviewing Li’s year, one could be asked how in the name of all that is holy did she manage to win a Grand Slam, beating the likes of Sharapova, the allegedly toughest player on the WTA mentally, or indeed beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets. Li’s path to the final was filled with intrigue and drama. She played some tough matches but in the final, just as Schiavone did before, she played absolutely flawless tennis. She served well, returned even better, did not get down on herself, and took the opportunities when they were presented to her.
Li has won one other title this year, at Sydney, beating Australian Open champion Clijsters in what was a very good match.

There have been much written about Li’s slump since winning the French Open, but a quick check of her year in review on the WTA’s website shows an observer exactly what you usually get with Li. There is a reason why she has such a small number of titles since joining the Tour. In her first 5 tournaments, apart from reaching the final of Sydney and the final of the Australian Open, Li’s record at regular Tour events have been a series of 1st rounds, 2nd round etc. Her best performance at regular Tour events prior to the French Open were at Rome where she fell in the semifinals to Stosur and her win at Sydney.

By winning a Grand Slam, Li has put herself in the conversation for Player of the Year. She has qualified for the Year End Championships and one can only hope that despite her recent utterances of not being able to find her game, she will embrace the challenge of being a Year End Champion and play like the champion we know she can be.

Give us your thoughts on Li as WTA Player of the Year

Next up: Petra Kvitova