Mandlikova article : Jana was 'too lazy and too laid back. She really didn't want it'
Tom Rife: Mandlikova was consumed by the game
By TOM RIFE
April 4, 2004
They all thought she would be the next Martina Navratilova.
Come to think of it, so did Hana Mandlikova.
But at the age of 28 ? and with 27 singles titles packed in her bags ? Mandlikova called it quits.
Four times a champion in Grand Slam tournaments, she had gotten her fill of professional tennis.
"I did. Physically, I still enjoyed it. But mentally, I was just totally burned out. I just couldn't mentally take it anymore," the leggy, still-cat-quick 42-year-old said Saturday at The Colony Golf & Country Club in Estero.
A resident of Delray Beach and the mother of twin toddlers, she was making a rare appearance on the court again. She was doing a favor for Naples' Johan Kriek by showing off some of her still-classic strokes in the Johan Kriek Classic for Kids charity event.
Though her own person in all respects, Mandlikova never was able to fully emerge from Navratilova's shadow.
She at one point made it to No. 2 in the world, and she left the game ranked No. 14. Of the 567 singles matches she won, Mandlikova was victorious just seven times in her 30 head-to-head encounters with Martina.
Ironically, four of those seven victories came in Grand Slam events (once at Wimbledon, once in the Australian Open and twice in the U.S. Open).
"I always had good matches with her," Hana said of her rival. "I enjoyed playing her very much. I did get pumped up when I played her. That's why you're a champion. That's what separates you from the others," Mandlikova went on.
"You have to know when to lift the level of your game up. I always in the finals against her felt I had nothing to lose. I just went all-out. If you want to achieve big things, you have to do that."
Mandlikova seized 15 doubles championships as well as a pro, ultimately banking $3,340,959 in winnings. She captained the Fed Cup team for her native Czech Republic, playing on three championship teams.
Immediately after calling an end to her career as a player, Mandlikova spent the next nine years coaching Jana Novotna.
While her accomplishments were many, Mandlikova readily admits that at times, she was her own worst enemy.
"I was totally consumed. If I think back, if I would have taken it a little bit easier on myself, I would probably have achieved much more than I did. I just wanted it too much. I put too much pressure on myself," she said.
"Jana was totally the other way. I had to put the fire in her butt because she was too lazy and too laid back. She really didn't want it. I had to put everything in her hands. We were different personalities. It was a hard job, I can tell you that."
While Mandlikova teamed up with Kriek for Saturday's mixed doubles exhibition, the man across the net as Brenda Schultz-McCarthy's mixed doubles partner for the afternoon, had some thoughts of his own regarding Hana's ability.
Pavel Slozil, the former coach of Steffi Graf who now teaches tennis locally at the World Tennis Center, lived in Prague and monitored Mandlikova's progress from the time she was 13 years old. He was close to her mother and father.
"She was always the most talented player from our country. I think she could produce better shots, fancy shots," Slozil said. "I think Martina was a hard-working player with a good serve-and-volley and athleticism. Hana was a shotmaker. It showed because she was able to play on all kinds of surfaces even though she did not win Wimbledon."
Mandlikova carries no haunting regrets about a pro career than began in 1978 and ended in 1990. In 1994, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
"All I do, I do with my heart," she said. "Now I feel totally at peace with what I did in the past.
I don't want to change anything."
Interesting to hear Hana say it was a hard job coaching Jana and how Jana did not really want it. Jana had such great touch and was very naturally talented yet someone like my favourite player Arantxa just had the want and determination to win and look how their career stats ended up. I wonder if Jana had been a bit more determined she would have achieved more, even with her famous nerves. I wonder what Jana thinks about Hana's quote - 'I had put everything in her hands'.
Also this article is filled with people talking about how talented and gifted Hana was and she had a great career, winning 4 Slams. No one really talks about how 'gifted' Arantxa was and she won 4 Slams. People focus more on Arantxa's fighting ability. But with everyone praising Hana like this and winning 4 Slams, did she underachieve? Is it even possible to say someone who won 4 Slams underachieved? Or did Arantxa maybe overachieve against expectations?