This week, Peter Bodo and Steve Tignor will offer their thoughts on some themes for the 2013 season, which begins next week.
Christmas is a day of peace, of hope, and, if things go as planned, getting something that you really want. I’ll take this moment to celebrate that latter, selfish side of the holiday spirit. On Monday I wrote about five phrases I’d like to hear less of in the coming tennis season. Here, on Christmas Day, are five players I’d like to see more often in 2013.
This native of Taiwan is 26 and has been a pro for 12 years, yet the first time I can remember seeing her play was in the Guangzhou final this fall. Hsieh, who has been working with Paul McNamee, has enjoyed a fairly meteoric rise in the rankings recently. In 2012, she finished No. 361; in 2011, she finished No. 172; this year she finished all the way up at No. 25. She also won her first WTA event, in Malaysia.
It doesn’t take long to see that Hsieh has the natural, if unorthodox, gifts of a Top 20 player. She hits with two hands off both sides, and isn’t afraid to get creative with her spins, placements, and—especially—her drop shot attempts. She would be a nice addition, and a literal change of pace, to the women’s game that we see on TV.
The 22-year-old, 6'8" Pole is another intriguing talent who somehow escaped my notice until this fall, when he made a breakout run to the final of the Bercy Masters. He was right on time, too. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly write another article about the lack of young ATP contenders, Janowicz came along with his huge kick serve, surprising big-man speed, and (sometimes dangerous) love of the drop shot. Plus, he has personality. He’ll be the first man to watch at the Aussie Open next month.
A few years ago, Andy Roddick lost a lot of weight, enjoyed a surge in his results, and then couldn’t stop getting ill or injured. Three years after that surge peaked at Wimbledon in 2009, he was out of the game. Is Roddick’s good buddy and fellow American Fish, who is deep into the third stage of that process and has already said he won’t be in Australia because of a heart condition, destined for a similar fate? I hope not. I’ve enjoyed Fish’s late-career renaissance because he’s had a chance to show off all of his skills, which are more varied than most of his contemporaries. Hopefully, his career won’t be cut short just as his game has fully matured.
The same goes for Nadal, obviously. Rafa has said he’ll have to find a way to schedule himself so he’s healthy for the tournaments he wants most to win in the future. Watching him on YouTube clips for my Top 10 Matches of 2012 countdown, I realized what I missed most about his game. There was the spirit, and the emotion, and the cussed effort, yes, but what I enjoyed more was something simpler: Seeing him belt his forehand. Inside-out, inside-in, hooking crosscourt, and on passing shots, it’s the game’s best mix of the dependable and the flamboyant. The game went on without him in 2012, but it missed that whip and flash.
I’m not counting on seeing a lot of this 16-year-old American, who just turned pro, on TV or at WTA events anytime soon. She’s the world junior champion for 2012, but she obviously has a lot to learn at the next level. Still, after all of the public talk about her weight and lack of fitness at the U.S. Open, and the heckling she endured over it at the Orange Bowl this winter, there’s no player I’d like to see succeed, whether it’s this year or 10 years from now, more than Townsend.
More Thoughts on '13
Bodo: Which Slam Will Surprise?
Tignor: Five Phrases To Leave Behind
Tignor: Players We Want To See More Of
Bodo: Who Will Regain Their Former Form?
Tignor: What's At Stake For The Big Names?
Tignor: Five Players With Something to Prove
Bodo: Which American Men Will Step Up?
Bodo: Which U.S. Women Will Step Up?