I was watching the Vera douchevina VS Roberta Vinci match the week before wimbledon, and I've been thinking alot about that match, both girls really helped me notice flaws in MY game that i've actually remarkably improved just from watching them.
these flaws include my approuch shots which I'd just put some spin, hit deep and start running forwards. She might have played on grass, but i like going up to the net on hard courts as well, and I learned what balls i should try and "approach-hit" in the first place (i'd just "decide" to go up the net till then, almost forcing it sometimes) and I also small-step up much faster using her leg-crossing-leg style of shot that builds up her sprint - it gives me the chance to use the shot for another half-step or so, and incourages me to push my body forwards, starting the running motion earlier.
Douchevina on the other hand "tought" me how much more i can improve my passing shots, and use them not only as passes, but as a real anguler weapon that i didn't even think of doing before. i tried adding my left hand on my one handed backhand to add that extra spin and angle touch - and it worked so beautifully that i now do it occasionaly on my one handed forehand as well, and it raelly added a notch to my game. suddenly under pressure i can go for something more than down-the-line. it's so much more than cross-court!
the approuching and the passing together really brought my game up a level - i always play with a friend of mine and we usually end up winning/losing by a small margin - after trying out what i saw, i really crushed him 6-1 6-2, bringing out some really great excuses.
It also made me thinking - the best players, although magnificent are too far from my reach. i can't try and immatate Lindsay's forehand or Henin's backhand. the Molik serve or Momo approuching shots to the net were in a way too good for me to even read (and let's not even start talking about patty's dropshot. it's no less than God-like in it's suprisingness).
In a way, it's the "lesser" players, with real strengths and weaknesses that i can learn from, and that match gave me more than any GS final or dueling YEC match i've ever seen (to my game. dementieva-capriati was pure gold, henin was amazing over pierce and venus/lindsay is still awing.)
I thought of linetskaya that helped me improve my second serve, because she has none - like i'd usually have. it's just a weaker first serve, and I finally got the slice-serve going on my next game, as though by psychological effect.
Wanted to know if anyone here has a simuler story, or if there is a player that he/she remembers that helped him improve a shot.