Welcome to the 2010 Year in Review. Beginning Dec. 21, in a time frame just shy of a fortnight, FOXSports.com’s panel of tennis commentators — Matt Cronin, Richard Evans, Zack Pierce, Addie Rising and Brian Webber — will share their thoughts on the topic of the day. So check back each day to catch one final look back at a memorable year in tennis.
TO CONTINUE OUR YEAR IN REVIEW, WE ASK . . . WHAT MATCH WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SEE IN 2011?
CRONIN: The WTA’s five most dominant players of the past decade – the Williams sisters, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova – didn’t face off nearly enough in 2010, a lousy development for fans as it is these experienced champions who tend to bring out the best in one another and produce the most exciting brand of tennis on tour.
Ultimate rivals Serena and Henin contested the best Grand Slam final of the year at the Aussie Open and then didn’t face off the rest of the year. Henin and Clijsters treated fans to two standout matches in Brisbane and Miami, but their Wimbledon clash ended with Henin injuring her elbow – an injury that sidelined her the rest of the season. Sharapova and Henin played a doozy at Roland Garros, as did Sharapova and Serena at Wimbledon and Sharapova and Clijsters in Cincinnati. But Sharapova didn’t face any of the others the rest of the year. Clijsters and Venus played the best women’s match of the year at the U.S. Open, but then Venus skipped the rest of the season because of injury.
Given that all these players, save Sharapova, are likely to retire after 2012, it would be nice to see them all get and stay healthy next season and play each other week in and week out. That would add a ton of sizzle to the tour.
EVANS: Hmm, now let’s see – a fit Serena Williams against a fit Maria Sharapova would be fun, and Kim Clijsters vs. Justine Henin is always a duel worth watching. I enjoy Andy Murray playing any of the top three, and if we are going to make this a historical, across the ages thing, then it would be my best of today vs. my best of yesteryear, Roger Federer against Lew Hoad, the hugely talented Australian who won four Grand Slam titles, including Wimbledon in 1956 and ’57. Or if you want two lefties, Rafael Nadal against John McEnroe.
But no matter how much one wants to draw other people into the mix, there is only one answer, isn’t there? Roger against Rafa, anytime, anywhere.
WEBBER: I’d like to see Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters meet in a Grand Slam singles final in 2011. The Belgian stars played an exhibition match this month in Antwerp as Henin returned from the elbow injury that sidelined her for the second half of the season. These rivals met three times on the WTA Tour this year when Henin came out of retirement. Clijsters won all three matches, including a dramatic round of 16 encounter at Wimbledon, and now has a 13-12 advantage in their 25 meetings. Henin and Clijsters are considering playing together as a doubles team at the 2012 Olympics in London. But before that spicy development potentially happens, it would be marvelous to see these two future hall of famers meet up in the final at a major next year — perhaps at the U.S. Open where Clijsters will be going after her third consecutive title.
PIERCE: Caroline Wozniacki vs. Vera Zvonareva in a Grand Slam final. These two players are going to stay high in the rankings in 2011, but no one will take them seriously until they have a Slam title to their name. For the sake of their own self-confidence, at least one of them needs to join those ranks next year. What better way than to face off against each other for all the marbles.
RISING: Andy Murray vs. Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final. Both Andys need a Slam win this year, and playing against each other on this stage potentially would give tennis fans everywhere an explosive match both in play and in emotion. Murray leads their head-to-head series 6-4, while Roddick is 2-1 on grass against the Scotsman. I can’t think of a more entertaining match.
Richard Evans and Matt Cronin are tennis writers for FOXSports.com. Brian Webber is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com’s tennis coverage. Addie Rising and Zack Pierce are tennis editors for FOXSports.com.