(October 1, 2012)
-- Heroes & Zeros is Tennis Now's weekly look at the brightest stars of the game -- and the biggest flops. This week we'll cover the Asian swing, looking back at Tokyo, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Hero: Nadia Petrova
For the second time in her career, former World No. 3 Nadia Petrova defeated two top ten opponents in the same event (she also achieved the feat in 2008 in Tokyo, during a semifinal run), and while Petrova suffered through predictable bouts of inconsistency during a few hotly contested matches, she was much more about overcoming than suffering last week in Tokyo.
In a thrilling quarterfinal that pitted two similarly intense yet shockingly different players in terms of style, Petrova faced a break point for a 6-3, 5-1 deficit against Sara Errani, but recovered nicely to best the Italian in three.
From there Petrova kicked things into high gear, racing past Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2, and taking out Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 for her 14th career top 5 win in the final (and 12th title).
There were times during this week where you couldn’t help but acknowledge the disruptive force that is Petrova when she is clicking on all cylinders. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. She can crush serves (Petrova is 2nd to only Serena Williams in the ace department in 2012), she is a master of first-strike tennis, and she comes to the net with the swagger of a player who has honed her volley on the doubles court, as her 20 career titles and two Grand Slam finals can attest.
But perhaps more than anything else--more than the technically impressive and wildly powerful groundstrokes or the surprisingly deft touch at the net--it is Petrova’s resilience that impresses. There is simply no quit in this woman, and it makes one wonder: At 30, can the former World No. 3 reach the top ten again (dare I ask if she can win a Slam)? She’s at 14 now, and judging from the ease with which she zoomed to the biggest title of her career, we could be witnessing the second coming of Nadia Petrova.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving player in my opinion.
Zero: Gilles Simon
You’d think Gilles would be able to ruffle the regal feathers of Richard Gasquet with his maddeningly conservative, consistent play. Apparently, not the case. Simon fell to Richard Gasquet for the sixth consecutive time in the Bangkok final on Sunday--and it wasn't even close. Gasquet gets hero status for his seventh career title and World ranking of 14, but Simon gets a bit of flack from us for missing the mark so badly against his compatriot.
Hero: Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
Needing a huge push to make the WTA Championships, Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears came through with the biggest title of their careers, defeating Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke in the Tokyo final to pull within 112 points of Petrova/ Kirilenko in the race to Istanbul.
It is the fifth final of the year and the third title for the pair of unsung American veterans. They didn't drop a set in taking their second title in two weeks.
Zero: Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova
Two-time Grand Slam champions King and Shvedova lost in the first round for the first time this season, bowing out to the wildcard pairing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova in Tokyo.
Hero: Sam Stosur
Stosur valiantly fought to defeat Maria Sharapova in the quarters at Tokyo, overcoming a career 1-10 record against her longtime nemesis and hopefully exorcising a few demons in the process. Even though she lost in the semis, the win over Sharapova could go a long way for Stosur’s confidence the next time she meets Sharapova in a Slam.
Zero: Petra Kvitova:
The enigma wrapped within a mystery lost in straight sets to Petra Martic in the second round in Tokyo. Is the Kvitova honeymoon over, or is this just a mere chasm in the road to higher ground?
Hero: Juan Monaco
Monaco provided further proof that he is indeed a changed man in 2012. After dropping seven consecutive finals over the course of four years, Monaco has won four titles in 2012 (including the Malaysian Open last week), and sits on the cusp of the top ten once again. Belief is truly a powerful tool on the ATP tour.
Zero: Tennis Players on Twitter
I'm all for tennis players waxing poetic about the latest sporting event. But I found myself frustrated that the whole tennis world was watching Ryder Cup while I was watching MLB's pennant races yesterday. I'm joking, but you baseball fans surely know what I mean...
|(Photo Credit: Itsuo Inouye/ AP)