Revivals Of 2014: Flavia Pennetta
Published April 17, 2014 12:14
Little over a year ago, Flavia Pennetta was knocked out in the first round of Indian Wells by compatriot Francesca Schiavone. It was her third loss in four matches since returning from a career-threatening wrist injury and led to some serious soul searching.
This struggle to recapture her best form had driven the Italian "very close" to retirement, before a second half of the season revival, highlighted by runs to the fourth round and semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open, nipped such thoughts in the bud.
And the Italian has carried this momentum through to 2014, reaching the quarterfinals at first the Australian Open, then Dubai, before defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in Indian Wells to pick up the biggest title of her 14-year career.
"I perfectly remember after the match with Francesca Schiavone last year, the day after I was in the garden running and talking with my physio, Max, almost crying because the feeling and everything was so bad. So I think without him, without my coach, my family, maybe I'd have quit," the 32-year-old said after her Indian Wells triumph. "And now, after one year, we have the trophy."
"It's my dream, and every player has this dream, I think," she said when asked about her Grand Slam ambitions. "Roland Garros, or one other Grand Slam, has always been the first dream I've had for my career.
"But after that, Indian Wells is one of the best tournaments in the world. And for now it's mine!"
With both Fed Cup and Davis Cup teams through to the semifinals and five players inside the Top 50, Italian tennis is in rude health at present. Pennetta, who in 2009 became the first Italian to reach the Top 10, has long been viewed as one of the standard bearers and knows just how important her recent success is back in her homeland.
"For Italy it was a really important moment. I mean, back in Italy people have been waiting for these moments for a long time, and the moment when I finally got there everyone went a bit crazy.
"I was talking with my dad, and he told me everyone was so excited about this moment. I mean, TV, radio, everyone was talking about this moment. But it was nice, because I was in the US so I didn't really get this feeling or feel the pressure.
"Sometimes it's good to be away from everything. It's a nice moment, because it's important for tennis in Italy for us to realize we can do it and win big tournaments."