The beauty of tennis' new year, aside from the anticipation surrounding the Australian Open, is the chance to isolate certain truths out of nothing. The past week saw a flurry of insignificant events, but there was much to be learned about some of the sport's key players:
Some of the greatest players never adjusted, if they even bothered to try. Pete Sampras knew he was doomed before the French Open even started. Bjorn Borg couldn't get his mind around the madness of New York City. Ivan Lendl tried to embrace grass courts, but he wasn't fooling anyone. John McEnroe skipped the French Open six times, and Jimmy Connors barely acknowledged its existence until he was 26 years old.
This time last year, Vera Zvonareva was playing her way to the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. Now she is ranked No. 7 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and gaining strength after an ankle injury earlier this season. In a recent interview with SI.com, the 24-year-old Moscow native discussed her thoughts on the success of Russian women, her experience as a ball girl and her other life as a student of international affairs.