Seasons at Stake: A Race Towards Fall (Part I)
The dust of the US Open is slowly starting to settle and we’re heading towards the finish line of men’s and women’s tennis in 2015. The year has seen improvements for some, but has also proven to be difficult for a couple of big names in the game — TTI takes a look at some of the candidates who might be in danger of falling behind the pack if they can’t pull out a strong sprint home.
Ana IvanovicEmbed from Getty Images
After her resurgence in 2014, Ana Ivanovic has been a fixture in the Top 10 for the whole season, but for most of the year, her ranking as held aloft what has been a season characterized by inconsistency. A semifinal showing at Roland Garros has been far and away her biggest result of 2015 and stands out amidst a sea of early exits. The Serb showed signs of shifting up her gears again in Cincinnati in August — taking out Sloane Stephens and forcing Serena Williams into a third set — but a first round loss to Dominika Cibulkova at the US Open halted any momentum the 27-year-old was looking to gather.
Ivanovic will start her fall campaign in Tokyo, where she is defending champion. With those points coming off, the Serb finds herself outside the Top 10 for the first time in a little over a year. In addition to her victory at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, Ivanovic also has to defend semifinal points at the China Open and another 390 points from the WTA Finals in Singapore.
In her first match since her US Open exit, Ivanovic could have met her all too familiar nemesis of 2015, Carolina Garcia — but the Frenchwoman lost to noted missile launcher Camila Giorgi in three hard-fought sets in their opening round of Tokyo. The Italian might not have put the Serb through the wringer like Garcia has in recent past, but she will prove to be a tricky enough opponent due to her “hit hard or go home” style of play. A couple of wins would do Ivanovic a world of good but should she suffer another early exit, there’s a very real chance that her Race To Singapore ranking (outside the Top 20) will soon match her WTA ranking as the curtain closes on 2015.
Milos RaonicEmbed from Getty Images
It’s not been the season Milos Raonic might have wanted or anticipated. Similarly to Ivanovic, he got off to a strong start in his first tournament in Brisbane, making it to the finals and pushing eventual champion Roger Federer to three sets. In the three successive months, the Canadian might not have outperformed expectations but he pretty much performed according to them, reaching quarterfinals in Melbourne as well as the semifinals in Rotterdam and Indian Wells.
As the clay season got underway, the 24 year-old starting struggling with a foot injury, forcing him to go under the knife and miss out the French Open. “The Sleeve™” rejoined the tour on the grass but results ever since are unlikely to match the Canadian’s lofty ambitions — as he has not advanced past the third round in any of the events he has played since his surgery.
Raonic kicks off the last part of the 2015 season in St. Petersburg, and while he might still be ranked inside the ATP Top 10, one simple question might need to be answered before the season’s end:
“For how long?”
The 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist is defending runner-up finishes in Tokyo and Paris while looking over his shoulder — the gap to the competition ranked below him is significantly smaller than the one to David Ferrer, who is ranked just ahead of him. On a positive note: the indoor tournaments in Europe might be just what the big-serving Canadian needs to finish his 2015 on the sunny side.
Eugenie BouchardEmbed from Getty Images
Eugenie Bouchard has certainly redefined and elevated the term “sophomore” slump to new dimensions during much of the past six months. The indications of a tough year were already there at the beginning of 2015, even though the 21-year-old reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. After her loss to Lesia Tsurenko at Indian Wells — still in contention for weirdest and most awkward match of the year — the wheels well and truly came off.
At the US Open, 2014’s breakout star showed some signs of a return to form but as so often in life, when it rains, it pours. Bouchard’s well-documented slip in the locker room and subsequent concussion saw her withdraw from her fourth round match in New York from a promising position in the draw.
The 2014 Wimbledon finalist was scheduled to return to competition in Tokyo this week but pulled out of the tournament while still recovering. In 2014, the Canadian lost to Petra Kvitova in the championship at the inaugural WTA Premier 5 event in Wuhan; with those points coming off, she looks to be headed to the peripheries of the Top 40. The 2015 season has been like marathon for Bouchard and she hit the wall eight miles into the race — yet, she’s forced to somehow keep running. Perhaps at least getting to the finish line with some results will give her a lift in morale for 2016.
Check back in tomorrow for Part II of “Salvaging a Season” where we’ll conclude with another three players who might need to shift into extra gear over the course of the next few weeks.
Reblogged this on Tennis Abides and commented:
A great first look at who can/needs to climb this fall on both tours
I would think players hanging around in the top 30, hoping to be seeded for the 2016 ao. being unseeded and drawing a top player in the 1st round could start a year off badly.