It’s another early end to the tennis week for my two favourites, but their progress and manner of elimination couldn’t have been more different.
Tim has just had a fine run in Dubai, beating two players who, although inferior to a fully fit Henman, are big scalps considering his current physical condition, and ranking. Beating Feliciano Lopez in straight sets, and then coming back brilliantly (from 2-5 down in the final set) to defeat Stepanek is just the kind of performance that gives credibility to a Henman comeback this year.
The fact that he has just lost to the number two player in the world: Rafael Nadal 7-6, 6-1 shouldn’t take anything away from a solid week which has shown progress. BBC Sport, so often a reliable source for tennis results and up to the minute news, does have a horrible tendency of using very negative terms when talking of Henmans’ results; win or lose.
Can the above result really be called ‘crashing out of the Dubai Open’ a phrase that should really be exclusive to top seeds, who aren’t expected to depart any earlier than the semi finals. The game by game commentary is even more absurd, but overall a loss is a loss, however you word it, and Tim certainly had chances in the first set to swing the match in his favour.
Still, he is looking determined to not only retain the British number one spot, but to achieve his goal of returning to the top twenty, I wouldn’t bet against it myself.
Daniela on the other hand, seems determined to run screaming from a return to the top.
As with Tim’s results, I was unable to see Daniela’s second round loss yesterday, and perhaps that was just as well. I had already decided to endure her first round horror show against the normally dangerous Kveta Peschke – I say normally because her form this year has been blighted by injury – which was a terrible match for the most part with Daniela finally prevailing 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 (after twice holding points for a double break in the second set). Her post match interview seemed to suggest a more relaxed and controlled situation: “I made the second set very difficult for myself, but I managed to turn it around in the third set. That was the best part of my match.How I turned around the match in my favour gave me a lot of satisfaction,” the Slovakian added. “At the moment, I am pleased about my game.”
Yesterday Daniela faced Na Li of China, a player who Daniela beat fairly comfortably the previous week in Dubai, after winning the first set 6-4 Daniela was broken at the start of the second to go 0-1 down. This was the point where I closed the Official WTA’s live scoring service to go to work, satisfied that Daniela would raise her game and win in two. She raised her game, she was winning 5-1 and had several match points within that game, before losing in spectacular fashion 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.
Her most devoted (and some obsessive) fans within her forum on WTAWORLD have called the result one of her biggest chokes in years, I really must agree.
This is unforgivable; after three strong tournaments at the start of the year, Daniela has fallen way short. After reaching the semi finals in Auckland, the quarters in Sydney, and that superb run in Melbourne reaching the fourth round and ousting defending champion Serena Williams, Daniela has lost consistently to players ranked lower than her. Such a trend is similar to the horror that was 2003, (the year if the weight problems and frequent emotional breakdowns) but now there is seemingly no real reason for such a decline.
Too much pressure after the Australian Open? Maybe, but the rot has to stop, or Daniela will find herself slipping back out of the top 20 after finally looking to be back to her best.