Patrick Mouratoglou is a world-renowned tennis coach who has worked with Marcos Baghdatis and Aravane Rezai. His French tennis academy is considered one of the top in the world. He is a frequent contributor to Busted Racquet.
The Istanbul Masters begins Tuesday, gathering the top-eight players in the world. This year though, not a single player can be called the big favorite. There are qualified, experienced players like Vera Zvonareva, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Asnieszka Radwanska, but also up-and-comers who established themselves with Grand Slams this season like Li Na, Samantha Stosur and Petra Kvitova. It'll be interesting to see how those women will be able to play against the other side, who weren't able to raise their level to Grand Slam heights this season.
Taking account of their respective situation at the moment, I'd say that Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Stosur and Li Na are not among the biggest contenders in Istanbul. And you can throw in Zvonareva to that group because she's been suffering she right shoulder issues.
Wozniacki's doubt crisis
The Dane is struggling right now as she tries to free herself from her father. Her relationship with the golfer Rory McIroy may have played a part in this wish to get away from the influence of Piotr Wozniacki, but immediately she felt the professional void it was leading to because her father has always been in full charge of her game. He was "fired" for a time this summer but then Caroline came with him to every tournament, showing some unusual breaks in their communication. This is a proof of her hesitations in the arrangement and a sign that it may not last longer.
The slumping champions
Li Na, Kvitova and Stosur won a Grand Slam for the first time this season. And they all had a slump after, winning very few matches in the following months. Are these let downs or real issues? Maybe a mix of both. Whatever it was, they're not starting this Masters with the confidence their major should have brought them. They're more the outsiders who'll get discredited if they'd lose too early. Kvitova seems to be in the best position: she played Linz without her coach, going just with her boyfriend like a "tourist", she succeeded to get away from all expectations and she won. She's back in a good state of mind so she may feel better during this event. Furthermore, she's so gifted, has the ability to speed up the game without effort so is becoming a really dangerous opponent when she's confident.
It is very tough to predict anything about this Masters because of the fact that Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams are not there. Now, there's a place to be taken at the top and the player who will reach the trophy will also be in a very good position for 2012.