Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nicole Vaidisova, a fallen star?

Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic has been one of the greatest disappearing acts of tennis history. The photogenic teen was once a grand slam contender dubbed to be the next number 1. Her ranking now? A pathetic 186. According to Wikipedia: “On 9 August 2006, at the age of 17 years, three months, and two weeks, she became the 12th-youngest player in women’s tennis history to be ranked in the top 10. She achieved a career-high ranking of World No. 7 on 14 May 2007.” She has now been totally out-shadowed by current young guns of the women’s tour including Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

The year 2009 just hasn’t been very spectacular for Vaidisova. Just visiting the Vaidisova activities page on the WTA website will shock you with disappointment. She started the year at a rank of 40. She failed in the opening rounds in the exhibition tournaments before Australian Open. Then at the slam, she failed to defend her 4th round appearance points from 2008. Disgusted at her 1st round lost to Severine Beltrame- Bremond at the Australian Open, Vaidisova boycotted her news conference and was fined. This attitude shown is not good enough, she should have accepted defeat with grace. By accepting her defeat, she would be able to recognise her mistakes and prevent them from occuring in future matches. She continued a streak of losses from Paris. She showed a glimmer of hope of a comeback when she thrashed Alona Bondarenko(top 30 at the time) twice in Indian Wells and Miami. However, she was ousted in the opening round of Roland Garros to unheralded Virginia Ruano Pascual 6–4, 6–3. She also lost in the 1st round of Wimbledon to Rossana De Los Rios in a tight 3 sets. Her lost at Wimbledon was devastating as she had failed to defend points accumulated from her 2007 Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance. After Wimbledon, Vaidisova did not pass qualifying rounds or the 1st rounds. Her unspectacular streak of loses include her US Open loss during the qualifications to Yung Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei in an unimpressive 3-setter, 6-7 6-2 2-6. Before this defeat, Vaidisova had lost to rising star, 2009 US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer in Los Angeles.

There are various reasons behind her decline in tennis which had already started in the early- middle of 2008 around Roland Garros. In 2008, she had a streak of losing 6 rounds starting with a 64, 60 loss to Ana Ivanovic at Dubai. These were the signs that her tennis was going hay-wire. There are many public speculations about her plummet. Whilst some claim her ex, the repulsive Radek Stepanek wooed her and she was distracted, others cite her early successes as a junior in the Women’s tour made her sick of the sport. Her decline has caused a new phrase to emerge: “She was Stepaneked” or simply “step-naked”. Her fans referring to her prowess been stripped after been wooed by former lover Radek Stepanek. The WTA website also indicates she has not participated in a tournament since failing to qualify in the US Open. This indicates her loss of interest in the game of tennis. However, she is yet to make a press conference to discuss of her tennis woes. All we can do is hypothesise the reasons of her downfall.

Her poor performance in the main tours is only enhanced by her refusal to play in lower level tours including ITF’s and Challenger tournaments. Instead of choosing to play in main tours and losing in early rounds, Vaidisova should have realised her dire need for match play to gain confidence. Thus she should have entered more low level tournaments to give her match experience to build up for higher levels. Early this year, she broke with her coach, David Felgate who brought her early successes as a teen. Her new coach, Ales Kodat who is also her step father has not proven to be a good trade. Her succession of bad results can be partly blamed on her coach’s poor methods. Vaidisova was notoriously known for her fiery temper on court. Her lack of control over her ange would often result to free points awarded to her opponent. She has smashed uncountable number of rackets. She simply didn’t have a great attitude on court. A fatal error with her game today is that she commits to many double faults and unforced errors. All these reasons combine together to collectively bring down Vaidisova’s game.

The saddest news of all is that there have been suggestions that Vaidisova has quit the sport altogether. She has angered the Czech people by quitting the Fed Cup team. Fellow Czech player, Tomas Berdych so claims in the article,

Nicole Vaidisova’s fan website is also a total disaster. It is hardly updated and there is no latest news of her whereabouts, for all we could know, she might be a barmaid, or airhostess, the imagination is up to you. I want to know what she’s up to, but I can’t because there aren’t any articles written about her. Even the WTA site has forgotten about her. Nicole is a sad story of a failed tennis star. An easier way for her would be to start modelling or live of the millions she earned in the prime of her career. Perhaps there is still hope for her in the future as she is still very young! However, she will have to train very hard and smart to regain what she lost.


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