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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Dec 30, 2009

12/30/2009 12:00:00 AM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Archive

Dec 30, 2009

I hate being wrong. Which is why I rarely make predictions. But as the curtain is poised to rise on a new year, there are tons of juicy questions with even juicier possible answers (someone get a roll of paper towels up in here!). And so, for you, I offer my forecast for the biggest storylines of 2010.

I'm number 1!

Roger Federer will break Pete Sampras’s record of most weeks at No 1.


As it stands, Roger Federer is 4th on the all-time list for weeks at number one, nabbing pole position a whopping 263 times. He’s all but assured of passing Jimmy Connors (268) and Ivan Lendl (270). The real magic number is 24, the number of weeks he’d need to surpass Pistol Pete’s insane haul of 286. If Rog didn’t give up his seat at the head of the table from here on, we’re looking at June 14, which would be post-French but pre-Wimbledon. And even if he doesn’t repeat in Paris, remember: he has no titles to defend until May. Regardless of when it happens, look for the last great record to fall before Fed’s feet in 2010.

Justine Henin will win a major. But it won’t be Wimbledon.

For someone who professes to have learned a lot about life in her time away from the game, she’s putting the same old pressure on herself to win at the All England Club. It seems anytime a microphone is in front of her lately, she can’t help but talk about the Venus Rosewater Dish like it’s a York Peppermint Pattie. That said, Justine version 2.0 is so much more revealing than she used to be that she’s almost become a flasher. She admits she lost to Marion Bartoli in the ‘07 Wimbledon semis because she was afraid to face Venus in the final. In the frustratingly tight-lipped world of professional tennis, what other top player would cop to something like that? Justine’s always had talent, but this new one has a ton more guts. I see a French Open in her future. At least.

Andy Murray will not win a major.

Harsh! But let’s look at the math. We have the strongest top 5 we’ve had in 10, maybe even 15 years. They’re all capable of winning majors, but there are only four trophies to go around. Murray is odd man out not because he’s the only one of the five who hasn’t hoisted one of those bad boys. He’s odd man out because there comes a point when the fear of losing overcomes the desire to win, when the expectations of others supersede your expectations for yourself. Call it the Dinara Safina Effect. And it’s sitting on him like an elephant. Grandiose proclamations of his being The Next Great Player by the likes of Andre Agassi aren’t helping. He can beat any player on any day, but as ‘09 showed with Grand Slam losses to Verdasco, Gonzalez, Roddick and Cilic, the reverse is certainly true as well. He’ll know what Grand Slam glory feels like. Just not this year.

Meanwhile, if we’re doing the math and Henin gobbles up a Slam, then either Serena, Venus, a fully fit Sharapova or Clijsters goes hungry in 2010. Have fun with that one.

Image is everything

The ITF will finally be taken down a peg.


The ITF has had its fair share of image problems over the years, but 2009 was an unmitigated PR disaster. It took on Richard Gasquet, Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse with startling ferocity, only to find itself losing both in the court of appeals and the court of public opinion. It’s one thing to have to be the bad guy, but to appear to brazenly relish the role is something else. The capper was making everyone wait months for a Serena Williams’ US Open spanking. For what? Worse than looking over-emotional, they’d end the year looking, well…less than swift. Expect a new approach, or new leadership, in 2010.

Of course, in this wacky sport anything can happen. While all the brainiacs jockeyed last year to announce who’d win what in ‘09, players like Juan Martin del Potro, Caroline Wozniacki, Melanie Oudin and Robin Soderling came along to remind us how unscripted tennis really is. Who knew John Isner would outplay Andy Roddick at the US Open? Or Jelena Dokic and Alisa Kleybanova would put on one of the Grand Slammiest shows of the year? Or Kim Clijsters would come out of retirement, much less win her second major 10 minutes later? Would I love to see Rafa win the US Open? Or Sharapova win the French? Or Elena Dementieva win anything? You bet. Would I love to see David Nalbandian retake his place among the tennis elite? Or Ana Ivanovic rebound? Or Juan Monaco get a haircut? Or Mary Pierce at all? Absolutely. And it’s all entirely possible.

In tennis, there’s nothing more thrilling than being wrong.

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What would New Year’s be without a little resolution? Or in this case, a big resolution? Santa was very good to me this Christmas, bestowing upon me Rafa’s pink shirt from the French. I don’t know how he knew I wanted it (maybe he’s a regular Sweet Spot reader?). Well, here’s a fun fact: it’s pink on TV but it’s PIIIIIIINK in person. Like, you’d get jumped walking down the street in it in real life pink. So my New Year’s resolution is to summon the cojones to actually wear it.

Wanna see someone wear Rafa’s pink shirt, without all those pesky biceps? Follow me at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.

Oh, and before I leave you and 2009 in the dust, I’m sliding this holiday greeting under the wire, if only because I worked really really hard on it. Okay 10 minutes, but they were filled with love. And only one foot fault! Click here for the Holiday Greeting. See you in 2010 friends.