Every Monday I take some of the best questions and give some answers in hope of creating further discussion. If you would like to send in a question, Tweet me (@MindTheRacket) or e-mail me at brodie@mindtheracket. Thanks, everyone.
Which ATP & WTA player outside of the Top 10 would not surprise you if he/she won a major in 2014? Thanks, your website is great!
An interesting question!
The ATP is certainly a very, very difficult guess – there’s literally zero evidence to suggest that this would happen this year. Quite honestly, there’s probably only two players outside of the top 10 with any chance of winning a slam (possibly with some help from injuries) – Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz at somewhere like the US Open and Wimbledon respectively. Both players are slowly but surely improving over large sample sizes, and if either good get a very, very good draw and get hot, they would be the most likely.
The WTA is clearly much more open. Who might pull a Marion Bartoli in 2014? Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon is the most obvious choice. Simona Halep isn’t a terrible bet for Roland Garros (if you win, you’re taking home some serious cash). And hey, one can never really count out Samantha Stosur. Outside of that – I don’t see a whole lot.
“Do you think Sorana Cirstea will break into the top 20 this year and what must she do to do so?”
Good question! Mwah. Quite honestly, if she’s playing well, she will cause Sorana all sorts of problems (assuming both of them get that far). If she does, she’ll get Jankovic in the fourth round and then Sharapova in the quarters. I certainly like her to make the fourth round, and that would be a good result for her. I’ll say she’ll make the quarters, though, as the push to qualify for the YEC begins.
Amazingly, Sorana Cirstea has never been a top 20 player. Ever. She was somewhere in the 25-30 range before Toronto last year, and a huge run to the final only managed to land her at 21. She’s jumped between 21 and 22 ever since. Ultimately, this is just a number, but players (and apparently fans like me) do care about these things, and it’s a nice feather for the hat.
One can only wonder with Sori. She certainly put in a ton of work with Gil Reyes and the Adidas team over the break once again, yet had two pretty shocking losses to start the year. I think there are several things powerful players on the outside looking in can do, and I’ll have a post on how power has changed in the WTA eventually. However, one thing that might make a huge difference for Sorana is almost too obvious – first serve percentage. Cirstea and players like her have no problem dominating and winning points in which they get ahead in a rally early, and first serve percentage can make all of the difference for her. She plays (and wins) a ton of three set matches, and in the matches she wins, her first serve percentage is almost always down in the set that she lost. She served at 60% or better for her entire Toronto run. That’s not an accident.
I am going to give a crappy answer to this question – it is certainly tough to tell. Years ago, Bouchard looked like a player who would eventually be overwhelmed by the big hitters of the WTA. Quite frankly, she looked all too Canadian. A good mover, solid, repetitive strokes, but struggling for a real punch.
Anyone who has watched Bouchard lately knows that this certainly isn’t a problem now. 17 and 18 year olds are taking more and more time (on both tours) to develop simply because the game has gotten so much better and requires incredible amounts of both strength and stamina – a good feel for the ball only gets you so far. In other words, the very young players that we’re beginning to see, Vekic, Konjuh, Barty etc. are likely to grow leaps and bounds over the coming years. It’s the easy choice, but Donna Vekic certainly is a player to watch out for. Being so tall and already naturally powerful, she won’t have to wildly adjust her game as she grows and gets stronger.
Probably not, no. I once tried to in this piece. I feel a bit bad for Petra. I’ve sat at tables with her during WTA All Access Hours (including her first ever), and she’s a sweet, positive girl who can’t help but grin at some of the littlest things. She has incredible power – we’ve all seen her hit Maria Sharapova off a tennis court like most of us swat away a fly. However, she struggles with asthma and extreme heat at times and is far from a natural mover. When she gets pushed around early in points, she can go off the boil very quickly (see the New Haven final loss to Halep last year). Those that can do that – take advantage of Petra’s second serve, serve big and push her early in a point (see Cirstea in Toronto last year) can find real success against Kvitova and force her into errors. It’s not about the points that Kvitova will win with her power, it’s about how the points she will lose do to her poor movement.