Flavia’s Finest Hour

1

March 17, 2014 by Parveer Mann

Rarely does a 6-2, 6-1 romp inspire an entire article but Flavia Pennetta’s Indian Wells victory over Agnieszka Radwanska is the rare exception. In about an hour, Pennetta’s win and performance accomplished something that didn’t seem possible a year ago: provide a career-defining moment for a player who didn’t even know she would still be playing.

Flavia Pennetta stands beside her trophy after winning the 2014 BNP Paribas Open.

Flavia Pennetta stands beside her trophy after winning the 2014 BNP Paribas Open.

From retirement talk to resurgence

After wrist surgery kept her away for most of 2012 and a tough first round loss to Francesca Schiavone at last year’s BNP Paribas Open, Flavia Pennetta admitted this week that she was close to calling it a career. At 31, she probably saw the end of her playing days and the frustration that can come with it. Just imagine if Pennetta never picked up another racquet, she would still have nine WTA singles titles and an accomplished doubles career to her credit. A fantastic career by any measure but one that would end in a very dissatisfying way, riddled with injuries and lopsided defeats. So, what changed her mind and allowed her to enjoy this year-long resurgence, the confidence shown by her team.

Buoyed by her coach, physio team and family, Flavia continued to overcome the difficulties that come with a comeback and that decision has paid off in a significant manner. She has enjoyed a renewed relevance in Grand Slams with runs to the US Open SFs and Australian Open QFs that had once again made her a Top-20 player at the age of 32.  So, it was hardly a surprise that she put herself in a position to win this week against a world-class field.

Table 1: WTA players over 30 to win a title in 2013-2014

Player

Titles

Serena Williams

12

Li Na

3

Roberta Vinci

2

Daniela Hantuchova

1

Venus Williams

1

Francesca Schiavone

1

Flavia Pennetta

1

A tough run to the IW crown

Challenged early, Pennetta had to overcome two three-set matches against Taylor Townsend and Samantha Stosur, even facing a match point against the young American. However, she continued to execute all week and her last three wins in Indian Wells could be measured right along the best wins this year. The biggest win being her semifinals victory over Li Na, the Australian Open champion who has arguably been the best women’s player this year.

The final ultimately was lackluster mostly because of Aga’s knee problems and her inability to chase down balls but it ultimately should not detract from Flavia Pennetta’s victory. Instead, it only positively reinforces the progress she’s shown in the past year and most likely helps add to her stature as a player in the minds of pundits and her peers. She’s now won one of the biggest tournaments in the world and continues to amaze only months removed from such personal doubt that it can only be called her finest hour on tour (pre or post injury).

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One thought on “Flavia’s Finest Hour

  1. […] Group C in the Round of 16 so they should be assured of a quarterfinal spot. On the tennis side, Flavia Pennetta, the Indian Wells champion is probably the nation’s best hope but the Italians are deep enough that they could possibly […]

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