I always thought he hated Martina but then I read some of his mailbag..... btw, I like what Lendl had to say about returning errant serves cuz I do those very things. Kinda scared me though
I have a comment on the question asked recently about how the Williams sisters are able to win despite making so many unforced errors. Steffi Graf played exactly the same way! I have two questions: How do you feel a 25-year-old Graf would have faired against Venus Williams? Second question: Since you listed the most naturally talented men on tour, how about a list of top 10 naturally talented women?
—Derek Reis, Rochester, N.Y.
First, while Graf made her share of unforced errors, she didn't play like the Williams sisters, who sometimes seem as likely to hit routine shots into the courtside placards as they are to hit winners. Venus of today against a 25-year-old Graf is a tough one. I'll cop out and say it depends on the surface. Venus is too athletic and powerful to lose on hard courts. (Note, too, that Venus is powerful enough to make Graf hit backhands.) But on the clay, where Venus would have to hit that extra ball, the edge goes to Graf.
The most naturally talented women? Good one, too. Off the top of my head, I'd say:
2. Patty Schnyder
3. Oft-injured (quasi-retired?) Anne-Gaelle Sidot
5. Anna Smashnova (even in getting her clock cleaned by Serena last weekend she hit a half dozen you-gotta-be-kidding-me shots)
Talent emeritus: Irina Spirlea
You often speak about certain players who possess what you deem to be "natural talent." ATP rankings aside, who do you think are the most naturally gifted players on tour today? In other words, when you daydream about the tennis player you wish you were, what player do you think of?
—Enrique, Lima, Peru
Those are, of course, two different questions. Wink, wink. But off the top of my head, Marcelo Rios, Hicham Arazi, Agassi, Nicolas Escudé and Safin head the "natural talent" list. I once heard Ivan Lendl, of all people, explain that you often can discern natural talent by what a player does when returning an opponent's errant serve. The players who, without thinking, slice a long serve so that it bounces on their opponent's side of the net then backspins to their own side, the guys who mindlessly bat a wide serve around the post and smack-dab in the corner, those are the guys with natural talent in spades.
All jokes aside, what does Anna Kournikova need to do to get back to the top 10? Right now she seems very lost.
—Tony DeCuba, Los Angeles
She may find her way yet. Though nothing is official, I'm told that Kournikova almost surely will hire Harold Solomon as her coach. It's a good move, one that she should have made months (years?) ago. Kournikova's most glaring deficiency right now is confidence, an irony given her bearing in real life. This string of opening losses clearly has done a number to her on-court psyche, as evidenced by her decision to drop down and play Tier IIIs, tennis' equivalent of minor-league baseball, these next few weeks. A few wins against anyone will help.
On the court, she needs to get out of the Bill O'Reilly no-spin zone.
(Ba-da-bum.) Too many flat, predictable groundies; not enough topspin and craft. As we've said before, if Kournikova would observe Martina Hingis and learn how to junk up a rally, it would do wonders for her results.