By Maud Watson
Farewell For Real
There was no singles fairytale ending for Kim Clijsters. In her opening round against young 16-year-old Victoria Duval, Clijsters spoke of passing the torch to the younger generation, and that’s exactly what happened in her following match, as she was outplayed by the young talent from Great Britain, Laura Robson. In many ways, her second round loss felt anti-climatic. Some of that may have been because Clijsters still technically had doubles to play. Maybe it was because she’d played so little since the summer of 2011 that it was hard to generate any buildup to her swan song. Or maybe it was simply that Clijsters wasn’t blatantly exhibiting any strong emotions (unlike Agassi). Resignation and a touch of relief were etched on her face, and you could hear a hint of contentment – an emotion that’s bound to blossom in the coming days. And why not? Clijsters gave it her all over the course of her illustrious career. She competed and defeated the game’s best. She won 41 singles titles, including four at the majors. She became the first mother since the 1980s to win a slam, and the first to reach No. 1. But more important than all of that was her friendly personality – the thing for which she will be remembered most. It’s an understatement to say she’ll be greatly missed, but with any luck, we’ll be fortunate enough to see her sometime in the future.
Calling It a Day
Less than 24 hours after Kim Clijsters’ singles career came to an end, Andy Roddick ended speculation about whether or not 2012 would mark his last season as a professional when he held a press conference to confirm that the US Open would be his last event. The fact that he’s retiring isn’t a shock. His results have been subpar by his standards, and it was obvious that more often than not, he wasn’t enjoying himself out there. But the abrupt nature of his retirement certainly might have caught some off guard, which makes his night match with Tomic all the more interesting. Whether it ends against the young Australian or later this fortnight, it’s appropriate that his career should end where he won his lone major. Roddick had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Federer, as without the Swiss Maestro, he might have picked up a few more majors. But he’s been a remarkable steady performer throughout his career, helped the United States to a Davis Cup victory, and carried American men’s tennis on his shoulders for the better part of a decade. He has a lot to be proud of and should leave the game with no regrets. Hopefully we’ll see him involved in the game somewhere else down the road.
You know it’s a sign of just how far Wozniacki’s stock has plummeted when her opening round loss to 96-ranked Begu didn’t generate a lot of chatter. It certainly was a performance to forget for the former World No. 1. Hampered movement, unforced errors, and an inspired performance from her opponent all combined to make for a meek exit for the Dane. The loss prompted some to question if Wozniacki isn’t destined for a career path similar to that of Jankovic, but that’s jumping the gun, especially given her age. Wozniacki’s comments indicate she understands she needs to play bigger tennis, which she is capable of doing. Finding that right balance between aggression and defense will take time, but she’s got a good coach in Thomas Johansson at her side to make it happen. Her 2012 may end up being a wash, but let’s wait and see if she makes strides in 2013 before completing writing her off.
Chris Evert went so far as to say a “champion was born” in regards to Laura Robson’s defeat of Kim Clijsters at the US Open. It might be a bit too soon for that, but Robson is certainly looking more and more like she has top player potential. She’s always been on the cusp of big wins, like her tight tussle with Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2011. She recently hired Krajan to help get her over the hump, and it seems that partnership is already paying off with Robson scoring the big win to send the Belgian into retirement. Great Britain has been hungry for a champion, and they’d like more than just Murray to be vying for the big titles. Robson may just be the answer to their prayers.
Keep the Drama
There’s a reason “drama” is an Emmy category – people love it! There’s been plenty of it already in the early goings of the US Open, with several men mounting comebacks from 2-0 deficits. Hopefully the comebacks have discouraged the arguments for a best-of-three format at the majors, an idea that picked up steam thanks to the London Olympics. That best-of-five format is what creates the drama and also differentiates the majors from the other events on the calendar. And let’s be honest. More often than not, the players involved in those early five-set thrillers are not the players who are going to realistically be competing for the title, so the amount of gas they take out of the tank is somewhat irrelevant. Besides, for many of those players, those wins will constitute some of the fondest memories they have from their careers. In short, don’t mess with that tradition.