Four to watch in 2011
Fri Jan 14 04:55AM
A career is often defined by few things: a sudden awareness, a sense of unfinished business, or meeting the right coach who can lead him towards becoming more committed.
It's never easy to understand what's going through player's minds. Yet, there are some players who have recently shown signs that they could, in 2011, kick on from previous seasons on the tour.
The 25-year-old old Swiss is at a crossroads in his career. He knows that he can still improve and wants to put everything into achieving that. For several months now he has been working with Peter Lundgren, the former coach of Roger Federer and Marat Safin. He did well at the US Open, beating Andy Murray, so he's in the ascendency. He chose to be more offensive on the court and worked a lot on both his serve percentage and being efficient on the shot coming right after it. He's also coming far more into the net than before. Stan is a very precise player, focused and determined. We should see him improving again this year.
The Latvian remains a mystery. Amazingly gifted, with a huge striking power, he seems be have been a victim of his own talent. Temperamental and sometimes out of control, he has never before given himself a chance to succeed in a sport where hard work, rigour and commitment bring more results than pure talent. Gulbis's talent nearly remained unexploited but his meeting with Hernan Gumy, the former coach of Marat Safin, changed that. The coach is used to strong and unsettled tempers, and he seems to have helped the Latvian get his game in order. Gulbis now uses a better shot selection and accepts that he has to work for every points and so has lowered the number of unforced errors. He improved tremendously last year and should keep riding along the right path in 2011.
The Serbian is coming off the back of an outstanding year. Here is a very efficient player who, until that Davis Cup victory, seemed to be lacking a killer instinct. He totally dominated Novak Djokovic at the US Open before ending up losing and he got match points over Rafael Nadal in China but was unable to win one. If his results were displaying his abilities, they were also pointing to the issues he has when it comes to finishing off big matches. Having improved all year long, Viktor was amazing during that decisive Davis Cup game against Michael Llodra, taking home the last point for the Serbian team. Without a doubt, that experience will have positive consequences for his game and his confidence. We should see him with new ambition in 2011 and with more ammunition to realise his dreams.
The 29-year-old Austrian lefty enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010 and he is now ranked 11 in the ATP tour. Not so long ago he was far too easily riled on the court, was capable of swinging from excellent to awful and there was no consistency to his results. Playing without a real game plan because he was able to do many things with the ball, he was often losing his way during matches. But, since he started to work with the Swedish former player Joakim Nystrom, he has found regularity, calmness and efficiency. Until now he rarely won against the top players, except against Novak Djokovic at the French Open, but for about a year now his results are far more consistent.