Re: Wimbledon Q1 Stephanie Foretz FRA (8) d. Michelle Larcher De Brito POR 6-0 2-6 6
I saw a fair chunk of this match from both the begining and end and I must say it was quite intriguing to see what this new youngster was like.
A few things were very clear from the beginning. While Michelle obviously has a lot of talent and a good future ahead of her, her game, at least as it stands now, is very definately not suited to grass. The fact that the courts were playing unusually fast today, indeed I am absolutely sure I have never seen so many women serving big before in my life, definately did not help Michelle.
Michele was totally overpowered by Stephanie's serve in the 1st set. Michele's groundstrokes are extremely solid and reliable but she simply wasn't being given a chance to get into enough points. Michelle's serve in contrast won her virtually no free points and on a day when so many players were getting lots of free points on serve this was not good news for her.
I did not see any of the 2nd set but it is obvious that Michelle did get more comfortable during this set and I presume managed to extend the rallies much more successfully.
When I came back in the 3rd set Stephanie was 3-1 up but the match looked a lot more even. Stephanie was still winning some points with the serve but quite a bit fewer and she often was getting into some tough rallies with Michelle. Michelle's groundies are very much the kind of groundies that work well on hardcourts, they have some topspin on them, they clear the net easily, they land deep but they rarely land too deep as to be out. There isn't a lot of variety in Michelle's game but what there is works well. In the end however Stepanie was too strong for her. She hit flatter and attacked the net more. She knew when to be aggressive and attacks Michelle's serve and tried to take charge of the points quickly. While Michelle probably won slightly more of the longer rallies that did Stephanie, Stephanie won a hell of a lot more of the short points.
So what did I think of Michelle. I have to say I wasn't very keen on her at all. Personally I don't find her game aesthetically pleasing at all although I can certainly see how it could be very effective particularly on a hard court or to a slightly lesser extent a clay court. Her famous grunt is actually that loud. It's loud but I've heard louder. But it is certainly the longest lasting. The most notable quality of her grunt is it's long long fadeout. Her grunt would often last until the point when Stephanie hit the racket. The other quality that comes through with Michelle is that she is clear a fighter. This is a good and commendable thing. She obviously detests losing. This means she can get very bad tempered on court when things aren't going well. Infact at 5-2 and down two breaks in the 3rd set she broke into tears. From there she fought back to 5-4 which says a lot about her determination.
Clearly Michelle is going to be around for a long time so we are all going to have to get used to her. I don't really know how successful this girl will be. Top 30? For sure. Top 20? Probably. Top 10? I don't know. She is going to have to add a lot more to her game. She will need to improve the serve a bit too. She might. She will probably get bigger. Right now she is quite small. So who knows. She will I suspect improve on grass too with time, although I suspect this will always be her weakest surface. I would be very very surprised if we ever see Michelle Larcher De Brito in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Actually I'd be surprised if she made the 4th round here, but then again stranger things have happened.
Last edited by Shvedbarilescu; Jun 18th, 2008 at 01:03 AM.