Tennis Birthdays: March 29, 2016

A solid tennis birthday batch, to which we’ll add Open Court’s brother – who’s lookin’ good.

Juan Monaco (ARG), 32

The man is an ATP Tour heartthrob in many quarters, seemingly because of his lion’s mane of hair (well, not so much these days; it’s almost corporate-trimmed), willingness to shed his shirt on a whim and also, possibly, his rather pleasant personality and great work ethic.

He also happens to be a pretty darn good tennis player, who was perhaps playing his best tennis as he moved into his late 20s. Lately, though, after a wrist injury and eventual surgery, it’s been a struggle.

A bit forgotten in a country that boasted David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro (who also hails JuanMonaco2from Tandil), Monaco, who hit the top 10 at No. 10 back in 2012, stood just inside the top 50 about a year ago, which was an improvement after he fell outside the top 100 during the summer of 2014  (for the first time since – seriously – May, 2006) for a few weeks.

A year ago, he was left off a Davis Cup squad that did not include Juan Martin del Potro, still recovering from wrist surgery, but did include a hand-picked-by-Delpo captain. When you looked at the squad – Berlocq, Schwartzman, Mayer and Delbonis – it was hard to figure how Monaco didn’t make it.

The usually amenable Monaco lashed out publicly at Del Potro, saying he no longer had a relationship with him and criticizing the fact that the entire Davis Cup staff had been morphed to meet what he assumed were Del Potro’s requirements. That seemed so out of character for what little we know of the man that you had to pay attention.

It went a little south for him after that; Monaco injured his wrist during the first round of the Kitzbuhel clay-court event and eventually underwent surgery, which cost him the rest of 2015.

He missed the Australian Open and returned for the ATP event in his home country in early February, where he lost in the second round to his good buddy Rafael Nadal. He retired from his first-round match at the Rio Open because of a shoulder injury, lost in the first round at Indian Wells and while he won his first-rounder in Miami when opponent Ivan Dodig retired down 0-5 in the third, he lost in the next round. So the wins are slow in coming in his comeback.

Monaco had gotten his ranking back up to No. 30 after last year’s Wimbledon, but through the injury and rehab it has tricked down the charts again; he fell outside the top 100 again with the last rankings a week ago, and currently stands at No. 108.

But back to the important stuff:  When he changes his shirt, as he does with regularity, there is swooning.

Jennifer Capriati (USA), 40

8306.capriati2 Tennis birthdays March 29, 2011

The original tennis poster child for “too much, too soon”, Capriati has never publicly and officially ruled out a comeback, even after shoulder and wrist surgeries and at her age.

But let’s be real; her last pro match was in Philadelphia late in 2004, where she lost to Vera Zvonareva 6-0, 6-1.

She still shows up here and there. But she’s pretty much dropped off the map. She just hasn’t announced anything.

In the summer of 2010, during Wimbledon, she was in the news down in south Florida, after a reported suicide attempt. There was some sort of failed romance involved.

Here’s a good piece from Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News, from back in 2007, about what she had been going through.

5756.capriati Tennis birthdays March 29, 2011

Capriati was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012, which had to be a high point.

2013 wasn’t so much fun. There was the spectre of a court case involving her alleged stalking of a former boyfriend. It ended up being resolved early in 2014, though, after Capriati completed some probation and community service.

2016 marks more than a decade since Capriati played her last match. Think about that; she was 28. When you look at the 34-year-old who remains at the top of women’s tennis these days, and her nearly 36-year-old sister, it gives you pause about what might have been.

In the meantime, she makes periodic stream-of-consciousness appearances on Twitter, which are encouraged by fan types but ripped to shreds by the majority. You just hope she can find some peace and happiness.

Romina Oprandi (SUI), 30

RominaOprandiThe Swiss-born Italian – who took back Swiss citizenship a few years ago – is loaded with talent, but has been beset by injuries.

She got into the top 50 all the way back in 2006, then fell out of the top 300 by the end of 2008 after missing the second half of 2007 with an arm injury.

After the French Open three years ago, she hit a career best of No. 32

A year ago, she was ranked No. 110, which is pretty much where she had been for 12 months. As she turns 30, she’s No. 133 and kind of off the map.

In 2012, it was a knee injury that hampered her. In 2014, before getting to that career high, she had a left hamstring and a right arm muscle injury that caused her to pull out of events. After that milestone, she had problems with her right shoulder. retiring in her first-round match at Wimbledon –when she was leading 3-1 in the third against American Alison Riske – and then missing the rest of the season.

We were shocked to see her in Indian Wells two years ago; she was very blonde, for one thing, and rather emaciated, if that’s not 0640.oprandssi Tennis birthdays March 29, 2011too jarring a word.

But – no visible wrappings of any kind.

Because of all those physical problems, Oprandi is one of those players who has been just below the fold. She’s never won a single or doubles title on the WTA Tour, but she has 22 singles and 11 doubles titles on the ITF circuit.

In Australia (above left) three years ago, she was bandage-free and looked really fit. She took Maria Kirilenko to 8-6 in the third set before going down.

The pic above right was at Wimbledon 2010, where she was wrapped up like a mummy and stood there as though she wanted to be anywhere else.

Romina Oprandi_newWe spotted her during the Australian Open last year, and again, she was standing there as though she wanted to be anywhere else. Seriously; she wasn’t even trying. It was so blatantly obvious, it’s surprising she didn’t get fined for not “giving best effort”.

Oprandi went down 6-0, 6-2 to Denise Allertova in the first round, and the shocking part was that she won two games. She took her big first-round loser’s Grand Slam prize-money cheque, and got outta town.

And, as you can see, she was all wrapped up again.

Oprandi “celebrated” her birthday eve at a $50,000 women’s ITF in Croissy-Beaubourg, France where, as the No. 5 seed, she lost to Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 2-6, 6-2, 6-2

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3 thoughts on “Tennis Birthdays: March 29, 2016

  1. Has Zvonareva retired? Don’t remember seeing anything about it, but she hasn’t been around in years.

    • Well, she actually played less than a year ago, and still has a ranking. So not officially. I think she might try one more time but injuries have just crushed her.

  2. Last I heard she broke up with fiancé Ovechkin and possibly had married some other guy in Russia. A persistent knee injury was hampering her the last couple of years.

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