Re: US Open 2011 Reports From iSzávay
Halep vs. Na Li:
I didn't get to this match until 5-all, because it was at the same time as Fistpump. Though I only saw two games, I feel the epitomized the match pretty well. The stadium was very full and crowd was excited and seemed to be pro-Na - probably because she was losing. During the Schiavone match when she almost got upset, I was thinking Armstrong is a great atmosphere for an upset. I have witnessed several upsets on that court, including Kateryna Bondarenko over Na Li last year, and the crowd gets really into it in matches like that. I could sense one for Schiavone though it didn't happen, but once I returned to see it happening to Na, I was like "yup, exactly. Called it." At 5-all, they were having some pretty decent rallies and Simona was sticking with Na and I was pretty impressed that she broke. I then took a seat right behind the court, and very close to it, on the side that Na was on for the last game. Na had a good amount of kinesio tape on that knee so I think she is somewhat injured. Being close behind Na, the first point I saw, I was like, "since when does she just spin the ball?" Last year, she lost to Kateryna Bondarenko, but it was extremely powerful, high-quality rallies and Kateryna had to play very well and take her chances to win the match. This year Na was just spinning every single shot because she was clearly afraid to miss. Her shots were clean and her technique seemed sound, but right away it was clear that she has zero confidence. The fact that she was spinning her shots comes as an attribute to this, as I imagine she is scared to miss so she instead turns to spin, and pushing. I have tried this myself when I play badly, and the outcome is that you're scared to attack balls you know you should attack, so you instead try to push them. You confuse your swing and end up missing. This was very clear on an open swing volley Na sent long in the last game. The attempted pushing doomed Na and her indecision beat her. Simona was very contained, both in closing out the match, and in celebrating very little once she did, which shows she is level-headed, but at the same time, she really did nothing. Simona looked the same as she had last year when she almost upset Jankovic, but in that match Lady JaJa failed to miss, so Simona couldn't finish her. This year, Simona waited for Na to miss, and she sure did, which led to this result. Na left the court quickly, and seemed to be limping. Maybe it's from exhaustion or maybe from her knee, but it looked bad. Simona was very calm and collected at the end, signing a lot of autographs, but she didn't look super shocked, or thrilled. There were some excited Romanian fans waving a Romanian flag in the crowd after she won.
Halep: It's pretty hard for me to say very much about Simona because I felt like Na was in charge of the points as she would either hit winners or errors while Simona just got it back. Simona's game wasn't particularly impressive to me as she basically seems like an intelligent pusher. What really impressed me though was her cool. Last year against JaJa, Simona had her on the ropes but got extremely tight and folded on the big points in the third set, eventually missing. This year, she definitely did not miss and completely beat Na at her own game by mixing it up and letting Na choke and miss. I did not notice Simona showing any nerves in the last game though and after she won she looked very calm and confident, like it was just another day at the office and time to focus on the next round.
Na: As I said, she was hitting cleanly and even though she was spinning the ball, which isn't her game, the shots seemed very technically solid. It's just that she was resisting her urge to ballbash and instead trying to push, which ends up in your arm being confused mid-shot when it's getting two different impulses and thus results in unforced errors. Somehow Na just has zero confidence. Her game is not far away, but it's a similar situation to where Sunshine was after Cincinnati. If Na can just put this shitty play behind her, she should be totally fine, like Sunshine did in New Haven, but with confidence this low, Na seems to be over-complicating things for herself, so she may have to start in the beginning. Obviously the New Haven result didn't help this problem. I would say no reason for anyone, including Na, to get worried at this point because her game is right there, but if she still can't find confidence for the rest of the year maybe she should make some big changes, such as a new coach or a sports psychologist, so she can reset mentally. Also, I'm not sure where the injury is, but I definitely thought she was limping when she left the court, although that could of course have just been fatigue or frustration.
My number one: Victoria Azarenka
ATP: Novak Djoković
Crazy Frenchies! Gilles Simon Alizé Cornet