Today I am going to lament the downward spiral of one of my personal favorite players. She was tall, powerful and strikingly beautiful. She was a true Goddess of the court. She was Nicole Vaidisova.
Oh my, the way I keep referring to her in the past tense it sounds like she's died! She is not dead, but her tennis career practically is. After turning professional in 2003 Nicole went onto win 5 WTA tour singles titles, including 3 in 3 weeks, before she turned 17. This girl was a prodigy. Blessed with a flowing service motion that unleashed huge serves and a forehand so powerful and accurate it had many an opponent trembling in her tennis shoes. Semi-final finishes at the 2006 French Open and 2007 Australian Open and a top 10 ranking followed during the next few seasons and few would have argued that Vaidisova was destined for anywhere but the top flight of the game.
Alas this is not where she ended up. A mixture of illness, injuries and possibly even her relationship with fellow Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek led to a shocking loss of form and her ranking plummeted. In my opinion one of her most demoralising losses occurred at the beginning of the month when, in a small ITF tournament in Louisiana she was beaten by Britain's Heather Watson. Now Watson is not a bad up and coming player and the reigning junior US Open champion but the girl is barely 17. Nicole used to be the young upstart teaching the more experienced players a lesson on the court but now the reverse is true.
However it is too soon to write Nicole Vaidisova off completely. Time is on her side as she does not turn 21 until April this year. She is undeniably talented, despite questionable movement and a backhand that is no match for her forehand, but her confidence appears to have disintegrated. If she can get this back and work hard on the practice court there is no reason she cannot be a force in the game once more. I for one just hope that one day soon Nicole Vaidisova can live up to her Goddess potential.