Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images via Daylife
Hello, and a happy belated new year to you, GTT readers! It’s Van with the first S&R for 2011. It seems like only yesterday we were talking about ’10: Man, that quote-unquote offseason is short!
Some players, though, had a lengthier break, particularly on the WTA Tour as some of its stars had to shut down last year early on due to injury, such as Venus Williams and Justine Henin. This S&R looks at another former number-one that did that, Maria Sharapova, and her prospects for the year ahead.
The past couple of seasons haven’t been the easiest for the 2008 Australian Open champ, mainly because of that shoulder injury that kept her off the court for a spell. It’s been hard to gauge exactly where she’s at: She’s won some tournaments since her return to the court in ’09, but a couple of them have been pretty minor. Also, last season was the first time she failed to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2003.
Plus, this year has already gotten off to a rocky start with a loss to (31-year old, World No. 88 and eventual 2011 Auckland champ) Greta Arn in Auckland. Throw in a new racquet – Sharapova recently announced a switch from long-time partner Prince to HEAD – and a new co-coaching arrangement between Michael Joyce and recently hired Thomas Hogstedt, and more bumps could be in store.
Or not, because for all of her off-court activities, she has to be one of the most competitive players–male or female–to ever pick up a racquet. Plus, powerful games rarely go out of style!
So, the first “Serve” of ’11 is this:
Will Maria Sharapova be back in the top five by the end of the year?
As always, your “returns” are welcome!