The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week featured titles for Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, Ernests Gulbis and Marin Cilic.
Venus Williams: A-plus. Since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, Venus frequently stated that she just needed time and matches – time to learn how to best manage her body to practice and prepare for tournaments, and matches to get back to her competitive best. That two-and-a-half-year process has been marked by a number of tight three-set defeats, including a trio of them for her three losses this year.
Given that history, Venus’ dominant run to the Dubai title as a wild card was both unexpected and completely logical; she’s come close to breaking through many times over the last six months. The quality has been there in spurts — she reached the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open last fall, where she lost to Petra Kvitova, and she lost to Ana Ivanovic in the final of the ASB Classic to start 2014.