Next Week Marks the Anniversary of the End
This is a startlingly bad thread to start, but I just want to see the opinion of the people on TF about this. Next week marks two years since Ana's precipitous fall from #1 to just inside the top 50 or lower after this Wimbledon. It began with that struggle against Nathalie Dechy
What I found striking is that I've got matches from every year from 2006-2010 to compare, and what a major difference youth can make...in 2006, she looked to be fearless and didn't really care about missing as much (reference Sharapova v. Ivanovic Linz 2006), same with 2007 (reference Ivanovic v. Vaidisova Wimbledon 2007).
2008....at first it looked alright, but there were telltale signs that her nerves were beginning to be shot, starting with that loss to Pironkova in Rome...that should never have occurred, and 2007 Ivanovic probably wouldn't have let that happen. It seems that she just lost her nerve and she realized where she was in the world rankings rather than just playing tennis to play tennis. That match against Dechy, in my opinion, shot her nerves beyond repair. She used every trick she had and just barely scraped through (thanks to a net cord). The rest of 2008 was extremely rough, some of it due to a thumb/hand injury that was reported, and while she looked as if she was getting a semblance of form back in Zurich (SF) and Linz (won), it only inflated confidence that was shattered when she arrived sick in Doha.
Then the hot mess of 2009 happened. Watching that Kleybanova match, it looked as if she was trying to hard to generate spin rather than pace. The ball looked much slower coming off her racket, and I sincerely think that she was trying to minimize errors, and use her "new found defensive skills" to scrape through matches when she couldn't really hit her way out of it, but bottom line is that she is a player who thrives on grip and rip tactics. It was painful to see her just half swinging really on a lot of easier shots in that match. And it continued through the year. She only had moments of brilliance in her Wimbledon 3R and shining moments of that Bondarenko USO loss.
2010 rolls around and she's lost the fitness that she had, and if anything she's hitting with more topspin off the forehand, which again is something that she can't get away with because she's not speedy enough. I don't know if it's that Yonex racket she got after the USO 2008, but she just lost ALL her pace. Psychologist, as we all document, is needed.
This Wimbledon also marks the end of Maria Sharapova. The loss to Kudryavtseva, which was shocking, just began what had to be a nightmare for Sharapova as well. That Domachowska match in Canada really took its toll on her and then of course the shoulder surgery and recovery mentally from it. She hasn't been the same since. RG 2009 and Tokyo 2009 gave us glimpses of old Maria, but she (like Ivanovic) has just been on a results slide since, hitting rock bottom at this year's Aussie Open. However, unlike Ivanovic, she's been more willing to fight her way back to the top it seems and is at least getting mildly decent results with smart scheduling of MM tournaments.
The question for you: in the Ivanovic and Sharapova comebacks, what has made the biggest difference in the relative success Sharapova has had compared to the massive setbacks Ivanovic has been getting?
Tennis's Silver Millennium
Queen Serenity (22), Neo Queen Serenity (Sailor Garbi) (RG '16), Sailor Venus (7), Sailor GOATra (2), Sailor Kerber (2), Sailor Darth Vika (2)
Sailor St. Kim (4), Sailor Mahree (2), Sailor Anci ('08 RG), Sailor Seles (9), Sailor Dokic, Sailor Testud, Sailor Zheng
King Stanimal (3), Shittennou: Gasquet, Djokovic (12), Murray (3), Lajovic, Thiem, Sock, Cuevas