Errani Proves Staying Power
Published March 07, 2013 07:38
Second season syndrome is an ailment familiar to most sports fans. As the name suggests, it afflicts those sports men, women and teams that struggle to follow up a breakthrough season or notable triumph.
In the off-season there were whispers in tennis circles that Sara Errani could be the syndrome's latest high-profile victim.
Last year, 55 wins (four of them against Top 10 opponents), four titles and a runner-up finish at Roland Garros saw Errani catapult herself from solid Top 50 player to one of the game's elite.
But, having climbed to the very top of the sport, how would she respond to the spotlight focused on its summit? How would her unique brand of all-court counterpunching stand up to further examination from the WTA's biggest hitters? And how would she handle the prospect of defending all those ranking points accrued last time around?
Well, rather impressively, actually.
After a slightly underwhelming start in Australia, Errani has gone about proving the naysayers wrong by doing what she does best: winning matches.
Coming into the Indian Wells-Miami double header, no player on tour had won more matches than Errani, who has already racked up 18 thanks to the successful defense of her Acapulco title and final appearances at the Premier events in Paris and Dubai.
While the foundations for her annus mirabilis were built on clay, a US Open semifinal and a credibility enhancing performance at the WTA Championships in Istanbul illustrated that Errani is far from a one-trick pony.
"I am looking forward to Indian Wells and Miami and I hope I can do well," Errani said. "Hard is a tough surface and I still think clay is where I play best, but I showed in Paris and Dubai, which was very fast, that I am not only doing well on the slower courts."
Helping to mould her into this all-court competitor has been her doubles exploits. Over the past few years, Errani and her compatriot and best friend Roberta Vinci have established themselves as the pre-eminent team on tour, winning three of the last four majors.
In an era where many of the leading players choose to focus purely on singles, Errani and Vinci - who is ranked No.16 - are a refreshing change. And while her continued success in both forms of the game can at times be taxing, Errani has no plans to make any changes to her schedule just yet.
"I don't think that playing doubles negatively affects our singles," Errani explained. "I think the other way. I think that to play doubles we both take a lot of confidence and it keeps us thinking positively.
"Of course sometimes it is tough physically, but we manage our schedules and choose when to play and when to take a break."
For the next month or so there will be more of the former and precious little of the latter, with Errani electing for a full schedule throughout the clay court season as she looks to protect the mass of points she accumulated 12 months ago.
"I really don't think about the points too much. If you think about that, you are not improving. You have to improve working on the court," she added. "Of course, I like to watch the ranking. I like to have a good ranking, but for the moment, I just have to think about playing the matches, improving my game and practicing.
"If I do all these things, the results will come."