Changeover Chat: Impressions From the 2013 Season (So Far)


This week, we discuss our impressions of the 2013 season so far in a Changeover Chat, a quick back-and-forth exchange between the writing staff at The Changeover. For previous Changeover Chats, click here

Lindsay: With all of us traveling to different tennis tournaments, it’s been a few weeks since we’ve been able to all get together for a Changeover Chat. Since we’re suddenly more than one-third of the way through the tennis year, it’s a good time to take stock of what has happened so far.

Let’s start with the positive. Which players have you guys been the most impressed with in 2013?

Amy: I think the obvious choice for me is Rafael Nadal. Many people, myself included, weren’t sure what to expect from Rafa after such a long injury absence. Aside from getting the big results quickly, which is impressive in itself, it’s also a good sign that Rafa has been able to play a somewhat regular schedule with seemingly no huge concerns about his knees.

Juan José: I agree with that, Amy. The man has not lost before a final, and he won three straight tournaments heading into Monte-Carlo, including a hard court Masters 1000. An amazing comeback.

I have to say, I didn’t think at the beginning of the year that David Ferrer would be about an inch away from winning Miami. That was rather unexpected.

Maria Sharapova has been very impressive, too: she’s only lost three matches this year, two of those against World No. 1 Serena Williams. And in her last loss to her frequent tormentor, Sharapova was up a set and a break, playing some of the best tennis of her life.

Lindsay: I was really impressed with how Victoria Azarenka started out the year, defending her Australian Open title and then beating Serena. Of course, her foot issues have slowed that down, but her January and February were great.

Amy: The top-ranked players Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have been impressive. Beating Rafa in Monte-Carlo is a pretty big feat. And Serena’s just virtually untouchable if she can stay healthy.

Lindsay: Agreed on both counts. It’s been a pretty impressive start of the year for the players at the top of the rankings on both tours, except maybe for Federer, who is ninth in the ATP Race rankings, but that’s mainly due to his scheduling decisions.

Juan José: Roger Federer’s main issue this year has been failing to defend the three titles he won early in 2012 (Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells, for a grand total of 2000 points). Federer didn’t even make the final in any of those three events – in fact, he only made one semi.

Djokovic had a weird trajectory, in which he was wildly impressive (almost 2011-esque) until after Dubai ended. But then, couldn’t make a final during the Indian Wells-Miami double (two events where he’s done very well historically), only to rebound with an astounding win over Nadal in Monte Carlo. Overall, a fantastic start of the year for him, the Miami Tommy Haas trashing notwithstanding.

And completely agreed on Azarenka – she was phenomenal until her body started to give her trouble.

Amy: Richard Gasquet has had a really great start to the year, winning a couple of titles already, and reaching a Masters semi in Miami. Also, he’s up to No. 9 in the rankings, just two spots away from his career-high ranking of No. 7.

Juan José: Gasquet is a great pick. He’s been very consistent, and I like how he is aiming higher than his “top 15 level” quote from last year: he now wants to get into the World Tour Finals!

Lindsay: Absolutely, he’s seemingly ready to embrace his top 10 status. Also, Tommy Haas has shocked and awed, making a final in San Jose and then the semis in Miami. What a show he has put on.

From the younger generation, Tomic impressed to start the year but hasn’t really maintained consistency. Same for Gulbis. And the WTA rising stars, Robson, Keys, Stephens, etc., have all had moments to shine, which has been fun to watch in 2013.

 Juan José: In Tomic’s case, he keeps improving at a very incremental rate. Still plays great in Australia – and still looks very much like a work in progress elsewhere. Case in point, he lost today in Barcelona to Juan Monaco 6-0, 6-2.

Lindsay: Errani has been able to successfully stay in the conversation this year, which I thought was impossible, and her friend Vinci has been impressive too. It’s nice to see both of them continuing to gain ground instead of fading after one great year, as we often see.

How about the other end of the spectrum? Who has been the most disappointing so far in 2013?

Amy: I’m going to have to go with Del Potro. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance in Indian Wells, but we’ve also seen some inexcusably bad showings from the Argentinian this year. If he wants to be more than just a streaky player who can beat the Big Four when he gets hot, he needs to grow up and work on that consistency.

Juan José: He’s had exactly two flashes of brilliance (Rotterdam and Indian Wells). Everything else has been pretty disappointing. It seems to me that DelPo is quite happy to bide his time until at least half the Big Four move out of the tour. Which is disappointing, because he can surely do more damage than he thinks he can if he were to compete at a high level week in and week out (especially at Masters 1000s).

Lindsay: I was really disappointed in Angelique Kerber to start the year. I know she had back problems, but she’s been basically a non-factor except for the weird Indian Wells experience. And then she lost to Ivanovic in straight sets in Fed Cup? Bizarre.

Juan José: I think a lot of people (myself included) expected big things from her, but so far, there hasn’t been much to even justify her lofty ranking.

Lindsay: Radwanska’s disappointed me as well. There seems to be no commitment to actually being a top player, with her scheduling, her choices during matches, everything. She really proved last year that talent-wise she was not a fluke in the top 3, but now she seems to be reversing all of that good fortune.

And, of course, my American boys have been a huge disappointment. Harrison, Querrey, Isner. No words. Isner, of course, showed signs of life in Houston. I hope that continues.

Amy: How about a doubles shout-out to the Bryan Brothers? They’re in a bit of a slump at the moment, which is such a rare thing in their case.

Juan José: Three absolutely heartbreaking losses for the Bryans on three consecutive weekends. An amazing streak.

Lindsay: But it’s injury-related, mainly. Mike pulled out of Barcelona with a wrist injury, and I know Bob has been having back problems as well. They seem to be just a little off their game—losing the close matches they usually win—and I think health is a big factor. Not confident in their bodies in big moments. I wish they’d take some time off, but that’s very rare for them. Still, you’re right, if they have match points, they need to convert.

What do we think of Federer’s form in 2013?

Amy: Well, he lost to Julien Benneteau, so that tells you all you need to know. But in all seriousness, it’s hard to say. He’s cut back the schedule quite a bit. I did think he played well in Melbourne.

Juan José: Hasn’t it been an age-appropriate year for Federer? The man has played a gazillion matches in his career, and is going to be 32 in August.

Lindsay: Yes, and he was obviously hobbled in Indian Wells, though that loss to Nadal was still a bit jarring.

Amy: I’d put him in the “wait and see” category.

Juan José: It’ll be interesting to see how Federer deals with the inevitable niggling injuries that guys his age have had to deal with not only in tennis, but in all sports. It’s usually a much tougher adjustment for players who don’t have a history of getting injured and recovering.

Lindsay: And Andy Murray? I feel like had it not been for his stinker in Monte-Carlo we might be talking about him more in the “impressive” category.

Amy: Murray’s had an excellent start to the year.

Juan José: Murray avoided his usual post-Australian Open string of horrible losses, and made it back to No. 2, albeit for a little bit. If Murray gets it together on clay (big If, but still), he’s the only guy who can challenge Djokovic for the year-end No. 1, given how well he does on grass and hard courts.

Lindsay: What’s the one match that sticks out for you from 2013 so far?

Juan José: Djokovic-Wawrinka. Hands down. And Gulbis-Nadal.

Amy: Yeah, I’d say Djokovic-Wawrinka was pretty memorable. Also, Del Potro vs. Djokovic in Indian Wells.

Juan José: On the women’s side, the Miami final was fascinating until 4-3 in the second set.

Lindsay: For me it was Azarenka-Li in the Australian Open final. That match had absolutely EVERYTHING.

Amy: Yes, that Australian Open women’s final was certainly memorable, if for all the wrong reasons.

Juan José: That match was dramatic and very surreal … but far from excellent.

Lindsay: Also, Azarenka-Serena in Doha. I enjoyed that a lot. I just need drama and guts to really enjoy a match. I think quality is often in the eye of the beholder.

Juan José: In terms of quality, Djokovic-Wawrinka stands way above everything else. That match was insane. Also had one of the great match points in recent history, no?

Lindsay: Absolutely. That match wins.

Amy: I also really enjoyed Murray-Federer at the Aussie Open. That was high drama, especially the end of the fourth set.

Lindsay: That was fun. So was Fed-Tsonga, for a while.

How about the worst match of the year so far?

Amy: Kvitova-Robson at the Australian Open. That was very, very bad.

Juan José: That was pretty brutal, yes. AND I LIVEBLOGGED IT. Though I will say the last third of it was interesting.

Amy: Also, Monfils-Simon at the Australian Open.

Juan José: Monfils-Simon in a landslide. That was a crime against the sport.

Lindsay: Yeah, Monfils/Simon. The ultimate proof that long rallies and long hours do not equal quality tennis.

Juan José: I loved that quote that was relayed by someone, where Ivanisevic said that both guys had to be jailed after such a thing. If anything, Monfils-Simon is the ultimate argument for best-of-three matches in the early rounds of slams

Amy: The Miami men’s final was pretty bad.

Juan José: It wasn’t great, but not nearly at the putrid level of the ones discussed above.

Lindsay: And of course, Amy’s favorite match, Dolgo/Delpo in Monte-Carlo.

Amy: Yeah, that was really bad too.


What do you think of the 2013 season so far? Sound off in the comments below.

15 Responses

  1. tjc05
    tjc05 April 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

    It’s been a great year of tennis so far, I’ve enjoyed the steadiness from the top players on each of the tours. Then again, that’s probably related to my Nadal/Serena fandom haha. I also think the first 4 months have set up a lot of great story lines to follow for the rest of the year, which is great to see from a fans perspective.

  2. Josh
    Josh April 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

    On the topic of great matches, we’ve had some pretty memorable Davis Cup doubles rubbers so far this year, including the longest doubles match in history between the Czechs and Swiss. For some obscure singles selections, the two Baghdatis/Dimitrov encounters, in Brisbane and Rotterdam, featured some phenomenal shotmaking and were highly entertaining. The Brisbane match was Grigor’s best performance of his young career, as well. I’ll also toss out the Viña del Mar final between Zeballos and Nadal. Rafa wasn’t at his best, being in his first tournament back, but that didn’t detract from the high level of drama. As far as the worst match of year, I can’t believe you guys didn’t mention the Wozniacki/Kerber moonball-fest, in Indian Wells. One of those matches that is so horrific you can’t turn away.

  3. Aube
    Aube April 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

    You guys I can’t believe you did not even mention my baby GULBIS,yeah?! (and yes I see that you named him in riveting match against Nadou baby,that’s not what I meant,ok?)lol!

    I know I’m absolutely in the “minority league” when it comes to him but fair is fair,he won a tourney this year backing up his “foot in the mouth” shot that people in the top hundred can’t play tennis:)*rolls eyes* that is of course utter nonsense and I’m not condoning that statement even if I’m amused… but he is my spoil brat baby:)

    You have got to mention him,come on,Ajde GULBIS!!!

    I on the other hand absolutely agree with everything you’ve said about Azarenka and Maria,just very solid and awesome so far,as for my SEREBABY,enough said:)

    and Nadal had been brilliant because 5 straight finals upon come back is not to sneeze at…His tennis is KING and it’s not even all there yet,I fear a less good clay season this year than the past ones but still,he is still up there….

    as for THE HURRICANE DJOKO NOLE,he will engulf and trash anyone on his path,that’s just how it’s going to be,he is the talk of the tennis world,and I’m sulking dealing with it: wah wah wah…
    I have a dream this year he will win all slams and do something cray-cray around the tennis court,at the US OPEN that is,ehem…

  4. Ophelia
    Ophelia April 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm |

    Serena getting back to No. 1, Azarenka making a statement with her win over Serena in Doha, Nadal improbably winning Indian Wells, and Djokovic even more improbably winning Monte Carlo after twisting his ankle less than two weeks before are the highlights of the season for me so far. All in all, a very good start to this season with many intriguing storylines for the tournaments to come.

    On a side note, I actually feel kind of sorry for del Potro who just can’t seem to escape the shadow of his 2009 accomplishments no matter how hard he tries. I’m starting to buy into the theory that del Potro’s 2009 level was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and that, much like Djokovic in regards to his 2011 level, it would have been impossible for him to sustain it in later years even if he hadn’t become injured and that expecting him to bring that kind of level to every single tournament is unrealistic. He reminds me of Kvitova, really, except that Kvitova gets a lot less flack for her inconsistency because the women’s tour doesn’t have a quartet of almost-impossibly consistent players who make everyone else look like streaky headcases in comparison.

  5. przemusiowa
    przemusiowa April 25, 2013 at 8:59 am |

    JANOWICZ. Don’t know what is wrong with him, but his loses this year are BRUTAL. He only look good at Davis Cups ties, that’s all.
    Sad that he can’t use that Paris experience to win some matches.

    1. Max
      Max April 25, 2013 at 11:23 am |

      That guy had one good tournament and now he’s some kind of contender? Good one.
      He talks but can’t walk. Lame.

      1. przemusiowa
        przemusiowa April 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

        I’m not sayig that he’s a contender, I’m saying about that with such a game, he should do something more than lost at 1st or 2nd rounds at the tournaments.
        I giving him chance, because I’m his fan before Bercy and I know his style of play. I think he should change something in his tennis life,maybe coach. He’s playing like Challenger player, not a Top 30 player, that’s the fact. He need to get used to playing on regular ATP tour, but i tdon’t know that will gonna happen. I only could have hope.

  6. Master Ace
    Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 9:22 am |

    2013 WTA positives
    S Williams getting back to the top while battling ankle, back and cold issues(in Doha). Azarenka defending her titles at Australian Open(involved in that MTO controversy in her SF with Stephens and defeating a “home” area player in Li) before the injury bug bit her at Indian Wells. Sharapova being one match away from completing the Indian Wells/Miami swing(led by a set and a break in that final against S Williams). Li’s consistency during the season only to be slowed by injuries in that AO final. Errani is making me “eat” my words so far as she has been solid since losing in the first round at AO winning Acapulco in the process and giving Kvitova and Azarenka tough matches.

  7. Master Ace
    Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 9:24 am |

    2013 ATP positives
    Agree with Aube on Gulbis. Winning a tournament going through qualies at Delray Beach then following that up with a good tournament at Indian Wells. So far, he done well at Barcelona and will face Raonic later today(Thursday). Nadal success since returning from his knee injuries, Djokovic “stealing” Monte Carlo last week despite ankle issues and Murray finally defeating Federer in a Slam.

  8. Master Ace
    Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 10:10 am |

    2013 WTA negatives
    I would have put Stephens in the positive category as she done well during AO swing but after her win over a hobbles S Williams and the media potraying her as a victim during Azarenka’s MTO, she has not been able to win consecutive matches and Pete Bodo has an article on this :
    Also, Kerber has to be a disappointment from the beginning and until recently, all of her wins came against players outside the Top 40. Robson not consolidating her USO run despite a nice win against Kvitova at AO and losing in Fed Cup against Argentina. I thought Pavlyuchenkova would be doing better since her run to the Brisbane final against S Williams but has not been able to substain it except in Monterrey. Wozniacki has some puzzling losses this year losing to Pervak at Brisbane, Wang at Kuala Lumpur after a solid run during Doha and Dubai, Muguruza, who is an up and comer, at Miami, Voegele at Charleston and Suarez Navarro at Stuttgart. If Wozniacki wants to be at Top 5 player again, those are matches that she MUST win. At least, Wozniacki had one of the funnier moments in 2013 and it was at the Masters.

  9. Master Ace
    Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 10:17 am |

    2013 ATP Negatives
    Agreed on Del Potro. He has had chances to take his first Masters but could not close the deal against Nadal. This match came after defeating Murray and Djokovic in consecutive 3 set matches. He led by a set and a break in that match. Federer losing to Benneteau indoors at Rotterdam and Berdych in Dubai after having match points for a straight set win puts him in this category for me regardless of his light schedule. He does get a pass from me against Nadal at IW due to back issues. Also, I believe him playing that South America exo in the offseason really have been a hindrance in his preparation and it showed at AO against Tsonga and Murray. Other that the AO swing, Tomic continues to be a disappointment. Dimitrov inconsistency continues to bug me as he made the finals at Sydney but loses quickly at AO and making a deep run at Monte Carlo but losing quickly in Barcelona. Monaco for trying to play through a wrist injury and losing all of his ATP matches until Houston.

  10. Max
    Max April 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

    The WTA is pretty good on-court but there’s so much work to do off-court.

    The 40-Love campaign is cheap and amateurish just as their new website.
    They fixed the calendar about 5 times so far and we’re still in April.

    It would also be interesting to hear your opinion about Stacey Allister as many fans aren’t convinced by her. She doesn’t appear to be very competent in her fonctions.

    The WTA isn’t very fan friendly in general with poor marketing.
    What the hell is a Premier 5, a Premier and a Premier Mandatory?

    1. Master Ace
      Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

      I will give you my quick impression of Allaster at the moment : Not good. Getting coverage for the WTA via TV, streaming or any other media source, is poor. Letting EuroSport not cover tournaments was a huge error on her part. Also, had decided to start covering the WTA but it do NOT cover the semifinals AND finals. TV coverage for events in USA has been a disaster for years now.

  11. tclairel
    tclairel April 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm |


    Apologies for shouting but what about JJ? Honestly, what does a girl have to do to get some love around here? Does winning Bogota mean nothing to you?


  12. Tennisfan
    Tennisfan April 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

    I think you guys aren’t really looking deeper into Fed’s schedule. To be quite honest, it’s not surprising to see such an average start from him given his trends over the years.

    First of all the schedule. If you compare it to last year, the only tournaments he took out were Doha prior to Australia which was a good decision, he played a really solid AO. He also removed Miami. He is playing Basel now just like we all knew he would. He didn’t play Monte Carlo last year and he got out in the third round in Miami last year as well so I don’t see what the big deal is everyone is making about him cutting back on his schedule. You have to remember that there are no Olympics this year either. The 7 week break was crucial IMO to helping Roger be successful last year in the Summer and I expect a similar thing this year a little later in the year, starting at new york. I expect Roger to have a great season like he always does.

    This is the thing with Roger. He either has a great half year or great end to the year. He alternates every year.

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