Knapp Looking On The Bright Side
Published May 10, 2012 03:42
Tennis players are not always the cheeriest of souls, more au fait with steely eyed stares than beaming smiles.
But in this world of game faces and deadly seriousness there are exceptions. Players likely to shrug and say "c'est la vie" to the occasional curveball pro tennis throws their way.
Karin Knapp is one such player. And her cheery demeanor is all the more remarkable considering the ordeal she has endured over the past few years.
Back in spring 2008, Knapp looked to be on a one-way trip to the top of women's tennis. Fresh from an impressive runner-up finish in Antwerp, the Italian sat at a career-high No.35 in the rankings. Soon after, though, disaster struck.
A long-standing heart condition, which until then had not impacted upon her tennis, suddenly required surgery and forced Knapp to take an extended break from the tour over the summer.
"It was not good timing," Knapp said. "I was playing well and in the Top 50 and then I get told I have to have surgery.
"It wasn't really, really serious, but it started to trouble me in matches and the doctor said I needed to have the surgery to keep playing. So I went to have the operation and then missed Wimbledon and then the Olympics in China. That was difficult."
Knapp returned to action in time for the US Open, but, after missing almost three months, the magic was not there; a tame first round exit to Iveta Benesova in New York was followed by several more early exits as a season which promised so much ended on a whimper.
Worse was to come, though, as a nagging knee injury blighted a disappointing 2010 season, eventually forcing Knapp under the surgeon's knife once more.
"The knee was much worse than the heart problem," Knapp said. "In the end I needed two surgeries and missed a lot of tennis. Maybe nearly a year in total and I still need to go twice a year to get it checked up now."
After this came the long road back. And two years later she finally looks set to return to the upper echelons of the WTA.
A promising 2012 has seen the 24-year-old reach the quarterfinals in Bogotá and then go one round better in Estoril last week. She now stands on the verge of a return to the Top 100, but despite these achievements, a philosophical Knapp is just happy to be on court and injury free.
"It feels fantastic to be playing well again and I'm really excited about the rest of the season," she said. "I'm not really setting myself any goals for the future. I just want to enjoy each day and improve and grow as a player.
"Hopefully I can get into a few more main draws and win some more matches as this will give me more confidence and something to build on. But I'm actually just really happy to be out on court and enjoying tennis again."