Pressure getting to Henin? - TennisForum.com
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
Tart with a Heart
 
JonBcn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 15,733
                     
Pressure getting to Henin?

from: http://foxsports.lycos.com/content/v...ntentId=388316

Interesting article from fox sports - Justine sounds a little vulnerable, although I think it might be slightly over-critical of her performances this year. Or does one bad match = a slump?

BY MATTHEW CRONIN
********************
Mar. 13, 2002 1:17 a.m.


While it's not unusual to see athletes go into sophomore slumps, it's a bit odd when the player herself more or less predicts it's going to happen when the season is only 10 weeks old.

But after she was crushed 6-3, 6-3 by talented Slovakian 18-year-old Daniela Hantuchova in the third round of the Pacific Life Open, the 19-year-old Henin said that the pressure of being a Wimbledon finalist and top-10er is already getting to her.

"She's a young player. She has nothing to lose," Henin said of Hantuchova, the smooth-swinging, ultra-confident granddaughter of a one-time Slovakian No.1 women's player. "I didn't play a good match. She played so well. I was too nervous at the beginning and couldn't develop my game. I practiced with her a few days ago and I could feel she was playing so well. Maybe I was a little bit afraid of this match. I'm a little frustrated. It's a little bit sad."

The funny thing about Henin is that as well as she played last year in reaching the Roland Garros semis and then toppling red-hot Jennifer Capriati to reach the Wimbledon final (where she pushed Venus Williams to three sets), she felt like she had major improvements to make. This year, she began her campaign by losing to Venus in the final of the Gold Coast, then falling to countrywoman Kim Clijsters at both Sydney and the Australian Open. She then lost to Monica Seles in Paris and fell to Venus against in the final of Antwerp.

She has beaten plenty of good but not great players in '02, including Anna Kournikova, Daja Bedanova, Barbara Schett, Elena Dementieva and Nathalie Dechy. The gritty woman who helped lead her tiny nation of Belgium to the '02 Fed Cup title seems to think that she has to rework her serve entirely to make a larger step in the game, rather then just making gradual improvements.

The result on Monday in Indian Wells was eight double faults, a horrific 42.5 percent winning percentage on her service points and 24 unforced errors to only nine winners.

"She was an outsider like I was last year," Henin said of the composed Hantuchova, who so sure of herself that she declined an invitation to play doubles with Martina Navratilova. "That's the difference. She's not asking a lot of questions in her head. She just tries to hit everything. She can be strong. Last year I was an outsider, now I'm in the top 10. It's different."

What we have here is a super-intense, non-nonsense person and player who is too tightly wound up about her prospects and is in danger of letting all her parts break while trying to improve one.

"I couldn't play my game," said Henin, whose famed backhand completely went to pot in the second set. "When it's like this, I can't serve very well. When you're not ready emotionally, its hard to develop your game. My serve was good sometimes and other times I double-faulted."

Without getting overly technical, Henin — who served with some effectiveness last year — has changed her service stance and knee bend. Now, she bends her left knee twice before she strikes the ball and as a result, is making contact at too low of a point and parking her serve. Why the change?

"I changed the movement because I wasn't consistent enough," Henin said. "I worked very hard on it. It's going to take some months to fix it. I think that when I'm well in my head and when I'm playing well, my serve is fine.

"Physically, it's easier for me to serve like this. I lost a lot of matches with my serve last year so we decided to change it. In a lot of matches, it's going to be better. Today was a little bit worse."

There are some observers who already believe that Henin will not win even one Grand Slam in her career, because she is too small, takes too big of a swing and despite her wondrous shotmaking, does not have a money shot to go to.

But this is specious reasoning, because a big part of winning Slams is commitment, competitiveness, heart and guts. Henin has all of these elements and merely needs to take it easy on herself and allow her game to flourish naturally, rather than force change. She seems willing to weather the storm.

"It takes time to make an adaptation," Henin said. Sometimes it takes months to accept this situation. I can accept this situation. But sometimes it's a lot of pressure. I have to work on it and live with it."
JonBcn is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:06 PM
Senior Member
 
saki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: merely in delusional land
Posts: 6,290
                     
Thanks for that.

I think the writer is a bit harsh about Henin's decision to change her service action. It's obviously going to take some adjusting to, and she is going to be prone to lots of double faults to begin with but hopefully it'll pay off after a couple of months and throughout her career. That said, I haven't yet seen her new service action so can't judge.

"There are some observers who already believe that Henin will not win even
one Grand Slam in her career, because she is too small, takes too big of a
swing and despite her wondrous shotmaking, does not have a money shot to
go to."

Hmmm. Height only really matters when it comes to serve & Justine's serve is actually rather good. She doesn't have a particularly big swing - this seems to be a preconception that lots of people make about her. And she has "money shots" - her backhand and her volleys when she comes into net.

"But this is specious reasoning, because a big part of winning Slams is
commitment, competitiveness, heart and guts. "

Yes, of course, but I don't like the implication that that is all Justine has going for her.
saki is offline  
post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:09 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 7,843
                     
Interesting article. Henin *is* super-intense and hyper-critical and all the rest, but I don't think too much can be read into this particular loss. Hantuchova's playing very well at the moment, and is a VERY talented player; true, Justine was off, but on its own it doesn't mean too much. And it's not as if her results have been sub-par this year: she's playing far closer to the Henin of Wimbledon than the pre-2001 Henin, and a Slam QF and Tier II final is nothing to sneeze at. And she continues to show that, of the up'n'comers, she's the one who can make the biggest dent in Venus Williams' game. Venus' comments about Justine are reminiscent of Martina Hingis' comments about Venus 1997-98, when she was generally beating her easily, but even then she could see that Venus would give her a lot of trouble in the future. It's not a sophomore slump - Elena Dementieva's 2001 (and 2002 thus far ) was a sophomore slump.

Still, there ARE problems here which Justine needs to address. Nerves are clearly still a problem - scared of a match with a younger player because of a practise session? And she continues to have a mental block about beating Kim Clijsters. I think her interview was a case of over-criticism, though. She's a perfectionist, and was naturally quite down after letting an opportunity to get to the final slip by.

Last edited by sartrista7; Mar 13th, 2002 at 02:31 PM.
sartrista7 is offline  
post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:25 PM
Senior Member
 
brickhousesupporter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: it is all about location
Posts: 15,727
                     
I dont think it is the pressure so much. I believe it has to do with the natural order of the universe. Justine like many players rose quite quickly in the ranking and this was a spike in their career. I do think that she is settling down to her steady state level. She may never be in the top 5 but i feel she will be a very consistent 6-12 player. I dont think that she will never win a slam, as anything is possible. Her best chance to win a slam should be at the french open where she can take those big loopy swing and will not be penalized as much. this is just my humble opinion.

I am not conceited, I am just convinced
brickhousesupporter is offline  
post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:30 PM
Team WTAworld
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 3,376
                     
The article isn't up to much, but thanks for posting it anyway Jon!

I'm not amazingly worried about Justine losing to Dani because i) Justine didn't play well, and ii) Dani did.

Justine has only played one good match this year (the final in antwerp against Venus). Again, not a problem. How many truly good - as opposed to just another day at the office - have any of the Top Ten played this year? Monica beating Venus springs to mind... Amelie beating Monica.... Jelena beating Monica and Dementieva...Martina beating Monica.

Justine was not the better player in her match against Anna Kournikova this year, but she won. Good sign.

Let's not make it more complicated than it is.

She's just low on confidence, she's said it herself: "I think when I'm well in my head and when I'm playing well, my serve is fine. So that's not the problem. "

A lot of the problems are mental, and it maybe that she'll never get over them. But that's for another day (and year).

The pressure-confidence continuum.


"Mentally prepare? Why? When you plan something it never works. It's simple: get in, drive car, see what happens."

Last edited by thefreedesigner; Mar 13th, 2002 at 02:43 PM.
thefreedesigner is offline  
post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:30 PM
Team WTAworld
The Martian Llama
 
Martian Martin's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Settling into new flat
Posts: 20,264
                     
I would say she probably is being too critical of herself, I think she also knew she had a fantastic chance to get to the final with the draw opening up, so that probably played a part in her being so negative. I have to say though when I saw her match against Daniela on Eurosport yesterday, I was very very surprised with her new service motion, just doesn't look right.
I think also the stress of being in the top 10 does get to you because you are expected to win every match, or well certainly most matches and I think she'll feel pressure in trying to keep up with Kim.
Martian Martin is offline  
post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:44 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Manhattan,NYC
Posts: 2,057
                     
Well Henin is still new to the top 10 and we shouldn't expect too much in terms of consistency. The only reason we rank the top players as martina.venus,lindsay,serena and so forth is that these players are mainstays in the top 10 and justine like kim and jelena are the new breed that just arrived there and one day they will have mastered their game enough to make it to the top.....right now they are playing like top ten players this includes Alex and schiavone but they are still learning and I do not hold anything against them....it's just a pleasure to watch them come into their own right before my eyes.....

One way Justine can improve is to try another coach for a while. That carlos is a pain to see with all the insults he throws at her.....that I think is affecting her game.

When I think of life, sometimes my response is "Oh Damn!". But I still think of life anyway, "Oh Damn!!!"
maccardel is offline  
post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 02:54 PM
Veelieve!!!
 
Infiniti2001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 27,481
 
I'm usually critcal of writers -- but in this case it's not necessary... After all , this writer pretty much based his article on Justine's own words... Of course many top players will give lower ranked players their props --- in henin's case she freely admits that daniela psyched her out .... Oh well , what do I know?? I'm stupid :P

Infiniti2001 is offline  
post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 03:21 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 928
                     
I also think Justine should try a new coach. Not everyone responds to the "drill sergeant" mentality. Being beat down off the court mentally by your coach does not make for a smooth transition to the court. Maybe this fool has become/is a father figure for her. Justine is too talented to put up with that crap. She's the one who has to play the game and not her egotistical coach.
Deira is offline  
post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 04:44 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Hitlum
Posts: 8,050
                     
I think Justine is not mentally ready yet to be consistently a top player, she admitted it herself, she doesn't feel comfortable in that position, she needs some time.

About those that say she doesn't have a weapon, or she has a big backswing, well, they obviously have never seen her play, that's the normal misconception that if you have a one-handed backhand you have a big backswing, actually, she has a bigger swing on the forehand side, I am sure the article of that article must be a baseball writer that is writing about tennis.

[quote[Without getting overly technical, Henin — who served with some effectiveness last year — has changed her service stance and knee bend. Now, she bends her left knee twice before she strikes the ball and as a result, is making contact at too low of a point and parking her serve. Why the change? [/quote]

Obviously, this guy has no clue, when did Justine serve with efectiveness? I think he has just confused the names.

About the coach, I have been thinking the same myself, of course, when something goes wrong, the coach is the first victim, as in other sports. He did a wonderful job in the technical aspects of Justine's game, but he is not helping her to prepare mentally to be at the top. There is an article on him being extremely harsh to Justine and I can't understand how she stayed with him after that.

I believe that one thing Justine needs to do is to be less schematic, on that I agree with the author, she needs to let her talent to flow naturally, her backhand is a shot that nobody taught her, it's natural and that's why it's so good, all the rest should be the same.
Fingon is offline  
post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 05:15 PM
The hottest straight, goth rocker on the board
Admin Emeritus
 
The Crow's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Belgium
Posts: 33,702
                     
I'm kinda have mixed feelings about Justine's progress atm. I don't really give too much attention to the loss against Daniela, but her loosing records against (almost?) all topplayers worries me. Especially her only good match of this year (as someone called it), the Antwerp final against Venus. In the beginning of the third she was clearly the better player, but she lost 3 of her own service games while in all three 40-15 or something up. That's unfortunately so typically Justine, and I'm not sure if this will ever change.

And she really had to work on that serve. Everybody can see their is much more potential in that serve than she gets out of it.

If only I was sure that my head on the door was a dream
The Crow is offline  
post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 08:06 PM
Team WTAworld
Senior Member
 
saby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: France
Posts: 3,302
                     
Question

I don't really know what to think about Justine, she's a very good player but sometimes she makes me feel that her mind is too frail. Maybe it's just because she's young but at the same time she can be so good and sure of herself.

saby is offline  
post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 09:32 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Alabama, USA
Posts: 1,063
                     
I think sometimes Justine gets frustrated with her oppenent and does things that she normally wouldn't do. In the match with Kim Clijsters at that AO she tried to hit the ball as hard as she could every shot, and totally lost the beauty in her game. This caused her to make many mistakes. Just play your own game Justine! We love ya!

Justine Henin - Poetry in Motion--->http://www.geocities.com/xnedrabourne/

Member of Justine Philistines' Society!
theheninfan is offline  
post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 10:33 PM
Senior Member
 
saki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: merely in delusional land
Posts: 6,290
                     
theheninfan - you have the cutest avatar!

awww - little Juju
saki is offline  
post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 10:56 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Alabama, USA
Posts: 1,063
                     
Thank you!...She was 5 in that pic.

Justine Henin - Poetry in Motion--->http://www.geocities.com/xnedrabourne/

Member of Justine Philistines' Society!
theheninfan is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the TennisForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Image Verification
Please enter the six letters or digits that appear in the image opposite.

Registration Image

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome