February 29, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Five women to watch on the comeback trail

Injuries can kick a tennis player right in the gut.

But they’re not done until they’re really and truly done.

And until then, they keep trying to come back.

In keeping with that theme, all of a sudden, there are a few players who have re-emerged on the entry lists and are giving it another shot.

These are players who have figuratively fallen off the face of the tennis cliff, almost always because of injury.

They don’t call. They don’t write.

And, suddenly, they’re back.

Vertigo takes Dodin off the courts

Oprandi

Dodin, a hard-hitting 22-year-old, is down to No. 393 in the rankings, from a career best of No. 46 just before the 2017 French Open.

She hadn’t played since retiring after the first set of a first-round match against countrywoman Amandine Hesse at an ITF tournament in Contrexeville – last July.

But Dodin returned two weeks ago, playing a $25,000 ITF in Sunderland, Great Britain. She won two rounds, then lost to Brit Tara Moore in the quarterfinals.

Dodin took the plunge at a bigger event and entered the qualifying in Stuttgart this week. Countrywoman Jessika Ponchet defeated her 6-2, 7-5.

(A side note in the full circle kind of way: Ponchet was the one who was up 6-0, 5-0 and had match point on Moore in Sunderland, before the Brit won it 6-3 in the third)

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Dodin at Wimbledon qualifying last June, in a loss to Mona Barthel that went to 8-6 in the third. She played one more match a few weeks later – and was gone until two weeks ago in Sunderland. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Dodin is entered in the $60K ITF event in Les Franqueses del Valles, Spain next week, with a special ranking of No. 164. She also entered two $25,000 tournaments the week after, but with her “true” ranking. So she’s down on the alternates list.

And the Frenchwoman has entered the French Open qualifying and Wimbledon qualifying with the protected ranking.

Where has she been? Surprisingly little has come to light publicly. But Dodin has been struggling with vertigo. And that has left her unable to train. Hopefully this comeback means she has resolved the issue.

Romina Oprandi rises again

Oprandi at Wimbledon in 2012 – with no visible tape on any body part. That’s been a rare sight during her career. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

The dual Italian-Swiss citizen, now 33 and a pro since 2005, has more lives than a cat.

There’s no way she should even be trying to play tennis with the state of her shoulder and now, after two wrist surgeries. But you can’t keep her down.

The former No. 32 (in June, 2013), has no ranking at the moment. She hasn’t had one since the end of 2018, when the new ITF Tour wiped out the 20 ranking points she had earned in just three lower-level ITF tournaments during the season.

Her last tournament was a $15,000 ITF in Antalya Turkey last October, which she won. (As an aside, she defeated another lost player, Greece’s Eleni Daniliidou of Greece – a former No. 14 – in the quarterfinals of that tournament).

It was her first title of any kind in three years.

In 2017, Oprandi played just two events, both low-level ITFs around this time of the year. She had her seventh shoulder surgery in October (and suffers from osteoarthritis as well).

She last played regularly in the first half of 2016, until early June.

Oprandi is using a protected ranking that dates all the way back to then (No. 139) to enter the French Open qualifying. 

We’ll see if she can make it. The protected ranking expires in June, 2019. And she has yet to use it to enter and play a Grand Slam tournament.

Oprandi had entered a $25,000 clay-court event in Switzerland this week but pulled out a couple of weeks ago. She also pulled out of next week’s $60K in Germany. But she’s still entered in a $25K clay-court tournament in Rome the week of the Madrid WTA/ATP tournament, and all the bigger ITFs the week after that.

What’s been going on lately? Surgeries on BOTH wrists. The first came in October, on the left wrist.

The second came on New Year’s Eve – on the left wrist.

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This is new for Oprandi, who has had SEVEN surgeries on a right shoulder she basically destroyed playing soccer as a 14-year-old.

Here’s an interesting story from her hometown newspaper in Bern, Switzerland nearly a year ago. Oprandi was playing over-30 interclub, mostly practicing lefthanded. She also was playing team soccer. We’re talking about a ridiculous athlete here. 

Most often when we saw Oprandi on the court, she had various body parts wrapped up in every configuration.  

But when she’s been healthy and in form, she’s a crafty, clever player. One of those player the tennis purists who do a deep dive appreciate the most.

She reached the third round of Wimbledon twice, and the third round of the US Open twice.

Here’s a little photo gallery of Oprandi, complete with tape on body parts other than that destroyed shoulder.

2010 Wimbledon:

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2011 US Open:

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2012 Australian Open:

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2015 Australian Open:

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Friedsam rounding into form

Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam, 25, is currently at No. 681 in the rankings.

In Aug. 2016, she reached a career high of No. 45. But it was a short period in heaven.

Friedsam’s last full season came in 2015. She played 28 events, all the way through mid-November.

Friedsam saves to the crowd after a first-round loss to Genie Bouchard at the 2015 Australian Open. She couldn’t have known that that it was the beginning of her last full season on the WTA Tour because of injury. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

In 2016, she played just two matches after Wimbledon and had her first shoulder surgery – just as she got inside the top 50.

Then, in 2017, she returned in late September for five events, capping off the season with a run from the qualifying to the title at a $25K ITF in the U.K.

In 2018, she played just three events. In the last, she used a protected ranking to get into the Australian Open, where she lost to countrywoman Angelique Kerber in the first round.

And then, a second shoulder surgery.

This year, she entered a lot of events, but didn’t play any of them until she finally returned at the end of February in a $25K ITF event.

With a protected ranking of No. 50 that she can use until September, she can play many of the bigger tournaments and hope to get some nice spikes in her ranking before it expires.

Friedsam’s first effort came at Miami, where she won the first set against Ajla Tomljanovic but lost 6-0 in the third.

In Charleston, she won the first set 6-1 against Tamara Zidansek, but lost the next two 6-1, 6-0.

This week in Stuttgart, she received a wild card into the qualifying. Friedsam beat No. 1 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, countrywoman Antonia Lottner and, on Monday, No. 8 Tereza Smitkova to reach the main draw.

https://twitter.com/PorscheTennis/status/1120356965723574273

She’ll get No. 6 seed Kiki Bertens in the first round of the main draw.

Anna Tatishvili on the comeback trail

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Like Oprandi, Tatishvili is in a race against the expiration of her injury protected ranking on June 24.

The Georgian-born Tatishvili, now an American citizen, hasn’t played since reaching the semifinals of a $25,000 ITF in Sumter, SC in October, 2017.

She had to retire in that match.

Now 29, Tatishvili reached the top 50 – checking in at exactly No. 50 in Oct. 2012.

She had her third ankle surgery in Jan. 2018. And it appears that now – finally – she might be close to returning.

Her special ranking expires June 24, 2019.

Tatishvili, who obviously has no ranking at the moment, had entered the WTA tournament in Prague with a protected ranking of No. 107.

But she has withdrawn from that event. And she hasn’t entered anything else until the French Open.

There, she is the next into the main draw with that protected ranking, as soon as the first player withdraws.

Paula Ormaechea – back to the WTA

Now 26, Ormaechea was considered a rare promising player out of South American as a junior, when she had wins over Daria Gavrilova and Johanna Konta.

Ormeachea peaked at No. 59 when she was 21, after reaching the final at the WTA event in Bogotá earlier that year.

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Seen her at Indian Wells in 2014, Ormaechea was a big enough deal that she had her own personalized shirt, with the promotional tag line of the time. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

But after the 2017 US Open, she had dropped all the way down to No. 742. By the end of 2018, she had clawed her way back to No. 234 playing clay-court tournaments on the ITF circuit.

Ormaechea has played little in 2019. She showed up at the Australian Open qualifying, winning a round and earning $18,600 (and 40 ranking points).

But then she disappeared again, victim of a right shoulder injury. But two weeks ago. Ormaechea defeated a wild card and two qualifiers to reach the semifinals at a $25,000 ITF in Tunisia.

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Ormaechea’s comeback in 2018 was all on clay – until she missed another three months in 2019. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

This past weekend in Stuttgart, she reappeared on the WTA Tour for the first time since losing in the first round of the Florianopolis tournament in Aug. 2015.

It’s been so long, that tournament doesn’t even exist any more.

Ormaechea lost 6-1, 6-1 to Germany’s Antonia Lottner in the first round of qualifying.

She may sneak into the qualifying in Prague next week. And she’s entered in the French Open qualifying; she should get in.

Ormaechea reached the third round at Roland Garros in both 2013 and 2014.

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