What's wrong with Maria? - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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What's wrong with Maria?

Yes, another thread about Maria's problems with a very lame title.

So why is the Maria of now unable to compete at the same level she did from 2004-2006 and from the brief showing at the 2008 AO?

It's not mental.

I don't think there's much pain in her shoulder currently. She seems to complete her strokes on the forehand and serve just fine.

The way I see it is that she's simply going for far too much from very tough positions on the court. The thing is she doesn't have that many options anyhow so she's forced to play that game: if she rallies her side to side movement will be easily exposed. But in 2004-2006, she was making those shots, now she isn't. It seems to be an issue of a loss of agility, footwork and movement around the ball. If she can't get herself into good position, she's not going to make those very low % shots. Her timing is also off.

She has similar problems on the serve in my view. She can't time the serve well. The action looks all over the place. How can she hit a serve inside her own service box? She has lost coordination on her strokes.

Is her case similar to many of the previous generation who played a good 2-3 years at a very good level, then slumped off never to return? Vaidisova, Chakvetadze, Ivanovic...etc? Did her far-from perfect technique on the forehand and serve finally unravel?

Last edited by Apoleb; Apr 3rd, 2011 at 01:31 PM.
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post #2 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

One has to still consider injury, and the mental issues that arise from any adjustments in technique.

But I agree with you in essence: she won those slams and big tournaments by hitting a dazzling array of barely-medium-to-low percentage shots. From first stroke to last, and from first point to last. Over and over again. That meant very little margin for error. Not just on the court but also in her head. It may have all looked natural. But we're seeing that with Maria, a split second of doubt produces an errant stroke or serve. A growth spurt, injury, shift in weight or loss of a quarter step does the same.

As does a tour significantly better at defense. Good opponents are now returning Maria's formerly damaging shots. Not always with interest, but often while moving her around. Or placing the ball out of her strike zone. And they will pounce if she hits anything short or 3/4 pace. It may look like ball-bashing, and it can be error-filled. But the players are now maneuvering opponents and working the percentages at the pace Maria, Serena and Venus used to hit. If Maria feels more pressure to go for unsound shots, it's because she rightly feels -- or even knows -- she's toast if they don't go in.

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post #3 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:13 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Watch the Miami final again, that highlighted nearly every fault in her game. Service woes, ball bashing and spraying errors, brick hands at the net, poor shot selection, horrible movement, and most imporatntly: no Plan B.

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post #4 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:21 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

the injury plays a role perhaps.

and i actually do think it is mental. at the top of her game, maria looked like she really believed she was the best, even when she wasn't necessarily the best at all. such an attitude is beneficial in any player, but especially someone who relies on power and going for their shots. i just don't think she expects to win every match any more, i don't think she considers herself "the best".

so for me, it is mental, plus the injury.

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post #5 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:24 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apoleb View Post
(...)

It's not mental.

I don't think there's much pain in her shoulder currently. She seems to complete her strokes on the forehand and serve just fine.

The way I see it is that she's simply going for far too much from very tough positions on the court. The thing is she doesn't have that many options anyhow so she's forced to play that game: if she rallies her side to side movement will be easily exposed. But in 2004-2006, she was making those shots, now she isn't. It seems to be an issue of a loss of agility, footwork and movement around the ball. If she can't get herself into good position, she's not going to make those very low % shots. Her timing is also off.

She has similar problems on the serve in my view. She can't time the serve well. The action looks all over the place. How can she hit a serve inside her own service box? She has lost coordination on her strokes.
(...)
I wrote it before so I am repeating myself a little. Maria back when she was winning was a lanky teenager I suspect much lighter then today. Maria is a grown woman today, still beautiful and lean, but her body filled up a little, her muscles are more packed. She is a very tall girl so only slight change in her body build leads to bigger differences in weight. Movement was never her strength, but with increased body weight it is even more difficult. She may have to find an alternative strategy to her game or enrich it to be successful. Maria has to make it easier for herself to get into shot positions that she likes. She simply lost her agility and trying to regain it maybe banging head against the wall.
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post #6 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

She is not a great mover, not great at the net.
She needs to hit very hard, precise groundstrokes, and that's not easy.
But the key is still her serve. She held once against Vika, once against Caro at IW.
Dulgheru broke her 10 times.
If you cant consistently hold serve, you wont beat good players.
She had very soft quarters at both IW & Miami. But when she played YEC players who were in form, the breaks were too much to overcome

I like the way she competed at Miami. Didnt do that against Caro, where Caro was going to do it also

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post #7 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:30 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

One can't argue with a lot of what's been written above. One thing I'd focus on if I were Maria would be court positioning and putting away short balls. She's gotten in the habit of smacking a great groudie and expecting to win the point right there. Instead the ball floats back to mid court, Maria backs up, and either hits another laser or makes an error in no man's land. Even if she wins the point she has to hit extra hits.

And big babe worth the name from Seles to Serena would come in and put those mid courts shots away for winners by stepping into the court or hitting winning swinging volleys.

And Maria is capable of doing just that. It's a matter of confidence and practice unless something is wrong with her shoulder. In the final she had a couple of chances to hit routine overheads. She opted instead for strange looking shots.

Keep being aggressive Maria, but don't treat the net like a radioactive zone!
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post #8 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:41 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

I can back this up with anything concrete, but I think Maria's natural left handedness might have a slight negative impact on recovery. Her forehand (which she hits right handedly) has been her weaker shot her entire career and is almost as unreliable as her serve. Venus Williams is also a natural lefty and her serve and forehand have proven to be liabilities, more so after major injury lay offs. I don't know exactly why this should be cause hinderance, but I think it plays a factor. Playing against natural handedness (assuming you're not totally ambidextrous) might complicate matters. Harder to retrain the motion perhaps with the added issue of post injury adaptation.

I also believe Sharapova's is still having mental difficulties. I'm no pro, but I know when I play and I feel just a bit tense, sometimes the ball goes in, but it can also go out and everything feels very laboured. She hasn't won any big titles and it must be hard for someone of her status to assume an up and comer mentality. [Plus probable sponsor threats to drop her without big wins] I'm not convinced she's handling the psychological pressure well, and as a result is probably just not feeling her game well out there. She needs big wins and against big names to really begin the comeback to consistency.

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post #9 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Quote:
As does a tour significantly better at defense. Good opponents are now returning Maria's formerly damaging shots. Not always with interest, but often while moving her around or placing the ball out of her strike zone. And they will pounce if she hits anything short or 3/4 pace. It may look like ball-bashing, and it can be error-filled, but the players are now maneuvering opponents and working the percentages at the pace Maria, Serena and Venus used to hit. If Maria feels more pressure to go for unsound shots, it's because she rightly feels -- or even knows -- she's toast if they don't go in.
I am not sure about this. From 2004-2006, she had to play Henin, Clijsters, Mauresmo, Dementieva frequently and often with success (and when losing, losing very tightly). I don't think the tour now is significantly better at defense. I mean, is Azrenka really that good on defense. Sure there's a Caro, but someone like Dulgheru would've been trounced a few years ago.

Quote:
I wrote it before so I am repeating myself a little. Maria back when she was winning was a lanky teenager I suspect much lighter then today. Maria is a grown woman today, still beautiful and lean, but her body filled up a little, her muscles are more packed. She is a very tall girl so only slight change in her body build leads to bigger differences in weight. Movement was never her strength, but with increased body weight it is even more difficult. She may have to find an alternative strategy to her game or enrich it to be successful. Maria has to make it easier for herself to get into shot positions that she likes. She simply lost her agility and trying to regain it maybe banging head against the wall.
This is what I had in mind. A stronger, more powerful build but with less agility hasn't done too much good for her game. I actually think even now she can hit with more power than at any time before, but not from the range of positions she used to. It's similar to what Jankovic suffered when she beefed up in the 2008 off season. She was no longer I think to be as aggressive from the backhand side when she was out of position or pushed wide.

I guess it's a mixture of a technique very vulnerable so that changes in weight/agility and an injury leading to a long lay off have all messed up the dynamics of her coordination and her positioning especially on the forehand and on the serve.
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post #10 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 03:11 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Because Sp!ffy jinxes her.

I think her injury broke her mentally, and she needs time to regroup herself mentally.

Because yeah she makes these ugly UEs, but the question is : "why does she hit them at such crucial moments?"
We all knew Pova had no plan B, she has always played like that, the thing is that she used to be clutch on huge points.

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post #11 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 03:15 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

she still needs more time to regroup herself

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post #12 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Two things:
Serve is gone..yesterday she was even having swinging misses after the toss! A player like Maria needs to have the serve working, so that she can be on the offensive from the first strike.
Mental game isn't what it used to be. 3-4 in the second set..Maria does a great job of getting back in the match ( helped of course by Vika, but still).. so you CAN'T lose that game on a df and make it 3-5 so that Vika can go serve for it!

She used to be the 3rd mentally strongest player in the game ( after Serena and Juju), but now she's slipped a lot in this department. It's costing her matches.

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post #13 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 03:39 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Teenage Masha >>>> Current Masha

It's funny how she's having a Hingiseque progress in her career.

Back in the days, her service was one of the best. Back then she moves a lot better and she wasn't that tall and was very lean. I wished she stopped growing at 6 feet. She WAS gutsy and doesn't seem to get intimidated. Now you can see nerves destroy her game.

Another thing is that money drained her motivation and hunger. What a crying shame. At least Serena never stopped craving even when she was earning millions.

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post #14 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 04:00 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

Her serve is gone. Without that her confidence/dominance of the point is severely diminished and her game falls apart, with no plan B.

Now she is engaged maybe she should marry (with a watertight pre-nup in place), have a baby and take maternity leave and come back with the motivation of unfinished business - a la Clijsters.

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post #15 of 137 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 04:05 PM
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Re: What's wrong with Maria?

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Originally Posted by TalulaTrauma View Post
Her serve is gone. Without that her confidence/dominance of the point is severely diminished and her game falls apart, with no plan B.

Now she is engaged maybe she should marry (with a watertight pre-nup in place), have a baby and take maternity leave and come back with the motivation of unfinished business - a la Clijsters.
Why does everyone think that players can just go off and have a baby and come back and everything will be fine and they'll win slams. It's really such a stupid statement to make. Do you people not realize how much carrying a child wears on a woman's body, not to mention going through birth. Kim's comeback was good, but it's not something anyone and everyone can do. Justine didn't have a kid and look at how much trouble she had in her comeback trying to stay healthy.

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