Of tennis, winning and losing
They say winning is a habit. Unfortunately, losing can also become one. Just ask Vince Spadea, Andrey Golubev or Donald Young. Spadea, once ranked No. 20 in the world, lost 21 matches in a row in 1999-200; Golubev, a former top 40 player, lost 18 matches in a row in 2011; and Young, once a junior prodigy, lost 17 matches in a row in 2012. Confidence is essential in any sport; and once stripped off, a player can spiral downwards into an abyss of defeat and despair.
That’s exactly where Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus finds herself these days. The 22-year-old has now lost her last 13 matches in a row on the WTA Tour dating back to last August. Rus lost her last five matches of the 2012 season and has lost her first match in all 8 events she has played this year. While her ranking has not suffered much yet, dropping from No. 61 to her current position of No. 86, it will surely freefall in the coming months as she needs to defend close to 900 ranking points till the US Open.
Rus knows the winning feeling. She was a former junior Slam winner and also became the junior world No. 1. While she hasn’t had the same success as a pro, she does have wins over Kim Clijsters at the French Open and over Samantha Stosur at Wimbledon on her resume.
Rus will probably need to step back to the ITF circuit in order to gain some ranking points and some badly-needed confidence. Once her ranking drops out of the top 100, she won’t have much of a choice. That may not be such a bad situation after all. The ITF circuit has often proved to be a good hunting ground for out-of-form players to gain some confidence to get back to competing at the WTA/ ATP level.
The ITF circuit is also where young players need to start out as they climb the ranks in professional tennis. That’s exactly what 21-year-old Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta has done – building one of the more extraordinary runs in recent years on the ITF circuit. The Spaniard has won 7 ITF singles titles on the trot this year – improving his ranking from No. 654 to No. 293. And this week, Carreno-Busta has taken a step from the ITF circuit to the ATP tour, winning 3 matches to qualify for the main draw of the ATP Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca – extending his unbeaten run to an incredible 38 matches (he lost in the finals of the first ITF event he played in January which means he has won 45 of 46 singles matches this year). His reward for qualifying in Casablanca is a first round meeting with world No. 57 Pablo Andjuar, also of Spain. Even though Andujar is in a different league as compared to the players Carreno-Busta has been beating on the ITF circuit (this is the first time he will be playing someone ranked inside the top 150 this year), no one can undermine the effects of a 38-match winning streak, even if it has come on the lower-tier ITF league.
As the tour goes through the European clay court swing and heads to the French Open, Rus will be hoping to end her streak soon and get out of her slump while Carreno-Busta will be hoping to extend his to transition to the elite ATP World Tour!