(September 24, 2012)— Heroes and Zeros is Tennis Now's weekly look at the brightest stars of the game—and the biggest flops. This week we’ll take a spin back through Guangzhou, St. Petersburg, Metz and Seoul.
Hero: Su-Wei Hsieh
I know what you’re saying: Su-Wei who? We last touched base with Hsieh in early March, when she won her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur during a rain-soaked, muggy week in the Malaysian capital. Back then she had reached a career-high ranking of 78 in the world, but after her victory over Laura Robson in the Guanghzhou final this week (she blew five match points in the second set, then came back from 3-0 down in the third) Hsieh has risen all the way to No. 39 in the world. The 26-year-old, who plays double-fisted and employs a mesmerizing array of dinks, dunks, moonballs and wormburners to go with her maddeningly consistent topspin strokes, is only the second player from Taiwan to win a WTA title.
Zero: All India Tennis Association
AITA President Anil Khanna has already banned Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for two years due to their refusal to partner with Leander Paes in the Olympics. Now, after Bhupathi accused Khanna of fanning the flames of his rivalry with Paes, Khanna has said he will “take appropriate action” with Bhupathi over the comments. My question: Isn’t the two-year ban appropriate enough?
Regardless of who is at fault, the fact that India has had to ban two of its best players from Davis Cup means it is the fans and the nation that will suffer. It’s a lose-lose for everybody, and the sooner the disgruntled parties can pick up the pieces and learn to get along, the better off Indian tennis will be.
Hero: Laura Robson
Laura Robson fell short in the Guangzhou final, losing to Su-Wei Hsieh in three grueling sets, but she did manage to become the first women from Great Britain to reach a WTA final in 22 years in the process. Add to that a career-high ranking of No. 57 in the world and things are looking pretty bright for the 18-year-old. "All round she's becoming a more dangerous player,” said Jo Durie, the last British woman to reach a WTA final in 1990. “Of course she has the big shots, but now she's willing to stay in the rallies longer before she goes for them. That's something that's going to take her up the rankings."
Zero: Johan Brunstrom
The 32-year-old Swede is a hell of a doubles player. But only one title to show for eleven ATP doubles finals? Yesterday, Brunstrom and Frederik Nielsen lost to Nicolas Mahut and Eduoard Roger-Vasselin inthe Metz final in straight sets.
Hero: Martin Klizan
The 23-year-old Slovakian won his first ATP title, became the ATP’s first 1st-time titlist of 2012, played the match of the week (a three-hour, forty-nine minute nail-biting marathon with Mikhail Youzhny that was followed by victory push-ups) and reached a career-high ranking of 33. Apparently, Klizan’s run to the fourth-round of the U.S. Open was not a fluke. Klizan, who moves exceptionally well, hits a mean ball from both sides, and carries himself with the demeanor of a top player, could be headed for the top 20 by the end of the fall.
Hero: Gael Monfils
The flying Frenchman is back to remind us all that it’s not always about winning and losing; sometimes it’s about putting on a show and giving the crowd their money’s worth. He did that, and made a semifinal run in Metz in his first action in four months.
Hero: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tsonga started the fall season off with a repeat title in Metz, the ninth of his career.
Hero: Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini
According to Greg Sharko of the ATP, this weekend was the first time that two Italians contested finals on the same weekend since 1980. Both lost, but the accomplishment is definitely something to feel good about.
Hero: Caroline Wozniacki
Her new line of underwear and steamy behind-the-scenes footage of the Great Dane wearing it isn’t the only reason that we’ve heard the former World No. 1’s name of late. Could her first title in over a year at the KDB Korea Open spark a revival for Woz?