Tennis Prose



What are the biggest surprises of 2010?

With dominant players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams at or near their peak primes, it’s hard for the second and third tier players to make their breakthrough moves and rise to the top and shock the world.

But there were several remarkable surprises this tennis season. I’d have to say Francesca Schiavone winning the French Open rates as the most unexpected grand slam result this year – and many years. Do you recall any expert or pundit ever saying the colorful Italian would ever win a major? I sure don’t.

Another stunning result is Vania King winning two major women’s doubles titles this year – at Wimbledon and New York. King won a WTA singles title in Bangkok as a 17-year-old but has struggled ever since – until this summer. King doesn’t have a big serve and she stands only 5-5, so her suddenly ascending to win two slam titles this year is undoubtedly a shocker.

Some might even say that Nadal winning in the U.S. Open was a surprise, but more than a few men’s tennis observers including myself and the esteemed Tom Michael knew years ago that Nadal is a highly intelligent sportsman and would eventually figure out a strategy and style to conquer New York. But to win a career slam at age 24? Wow. Just wow.

Nadal’s monumental win on Sunday was not as big of a surprise though, as seeing Roddick losing to Lu at Wimbledon in the fifth set.

I guess we all expected the Bryans to break the doubles record of the Woodies.

But did you ever think an Indian (Rohan Bopanna) and Pakistani man (Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi) would team up and reach a slam final, as they did at the U.S. Open?

Did you ever think John McEnroe would start his own tennis academy in New York City?

…Thomas Muster would make a comeback at 43?

…a man from Jamaica who traveled to challengers and satellites in a camper van would break the top 100?

…that a tennis match would last as long as the Isner vs. Mahut marathon did at Wimbledon?

…that any tennis player could win 396 consecutive matches without losing – like wheelchair competitor and six-time U.S. Open champion Esther Vergeer just did by defeating Daniela Di Toro 60 60 in the final?

Am I overlooking any?

What would you say are the biggest tennis surprises of 2010?

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  • tom michael · September 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Zvonareva and her fragile psyche making two slam finals.

    Melzer and Petzschner putting their feeble minds but physically talented selves together in winning Wimbledon doubles.

    Tomas Berdych fulfilling some promise and making a slam final finally.

    Roger Federer not making finals of multiple slams in a year.

    These are definitely more big surprises.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    All good mentions for 2010, but you have to remember that Cara Black, who’s probably no taller than King, asserted herself very well in doubles, too.

    I’d say a stunner for me is seeing Ernests Gulbis playing so well in not dropping a set in Delray and winning the event, and then basically, completely disappearing the rest of the year.

    Monfils performance at the Open was a shocker, playing so well in dispatching a hot Gasquet and then throwing up an egg against Djokovic.

    Mardy Fish was a shocker, winning a few events, losing the weight, getting to the finals of the two warmup events before Wimby and US Open, and then failing to play well in either big event.

    And on the other end, seeing James Blake drop out of sight on the rankings was a surprise.

    Finally, I’d say not a surprise, but a disappointment was seeing Davydenko, after being probably the best player in the world at the end of last year, not fulfill his promise.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Cara Black was dropped by her partner Leizel Huber earlier in the year and did not do very well after that. Expected Gulbis to capitalize on the Delray win and the upset of Federer but nothing happened which was a surprise because he looked so solid pre-French Open. Monfils has always tantalized with his phenomenal play but always seems to follow it with an egg. The surprise will be when he can avert that egg and win a big one. Really hope he can because it will be a spectacle. Davydenko was a big disappointment this year, he didn’t do anything memorable. Maybe Fed losing his amazing slam SF streak was a surprise in a way.



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