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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Brits Lack Killer Instinct - Navratilova

BRITS LACK KILLER INSTINCT - NAVRATILOVA
June 11 2003
By Ian Laybourn, PA Sport
SportingLife

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova says Tim Henman has little chance of winning Wimbledon unless the All England Club cut the grass.

And, according to the nine-times Wimbledon champion, Britain lag behind other sporting nations because their athletes lack a killer instinct.

Navratilova delivered her forthright views on a wide range of issues in an interview at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, where she is competing this week at the pre-Wimbledon DFS Classic grasscourt tournament.

She told how she has only just learned to swim - "properly" - and says, at 46, she is motivated to continue playing tennis as an inspiration to other middle-aged sportsmen and women.

The Czech-born American, who has reached the second round of the doubles in Birmingham, took a swipe at the British press and blamed the absence of a competitive edge for Britain's inability to produce champions.

She said: "Losing is the British way, isn't it?

"The Brits keep trying but they do things for the sake of doing them. They don't have the killer instinct that Americans have. That's OK, as long as you enjoy what you're doing."

Navratilova added "The press here is rough on any kind of talent. They build you up so much and, at the slightest sign of failure, they blow you up.

"You read that stuff and it will get to you no matter what. It's hard to deal with it. You're in such a microscopic world here and the press can really play games with your mind."

However, Navratilova also believes the groundstaff at Wimbledon have not helped Henman to that elusive Grand Slam crown.

"He (Henman) has done well under pressure but they really messed him up last year with the grass being so much longer," she said.

"It was playing so much lower. If it had played like it did three years ago, he could have won it last year.

"It was no accident that you had two baseliners who never serve and volley in the final. That's going to happen again if they keep the grass the same length."

Navratilova, who won her first Wimbledon title 25 years ago, is hoping to play singles again at Eastbourne next week in a bid to improve her doubles play.

On her singles comeback last year Navratilova defeated Russia's Tatiana Panova, a player 20 years her junior and ranked just outside the world's top 20, and intends to cause more embarrassment to the next generation before she eventually hangs up her racket.

"I've been getting so many compliments from people saying they're really inspired to do more with their life, whether it's tennis or just being more healthy," she said.

"Don't let age be the defining factor. I should not be playing at 46 and I'm certainly not playing as well as I did at 26 but I'm playing better than I was when I was 36.

"The balls don't know how old you are. So just get out there and do the best you can and, if you enjoy it, that's the main thing.

"The goal is different and it's a lot less selfish and I think that's why I'm enjoying it so much more."

Navratilova revealed that, at 10st 7lb, she is only two pounds heavier than at her prime and is enjoying the game as much as ever.

"I was about 145 pounds and now I'm about 147," she said. "I've a little more round the waist but I've got good numbers - something like 38, 27, 36.

"If anything, I'm moving better than I did in '94 and I'm not hitting the ball any worse.

"I get a buzz playing tennis - even on clay I enjoy myself - and everything that comes with it.

"I don't just enjoy matches. If that was all it was about, you would spend a whole bunch of time being unhappy.

"I really enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty of it, practising and challenging the body to doing new things.

"I learned how to swim properly. I've known how to swim for a long time but just not very well. I haven't looked good doing it.

"My trainer is a good swimmer and swimming is part of the training. I now look like a swimmer instead of a slasher. All of it is a challenge to me and tennis is a challenge."

Navratilova also has an answer to the age-old question of why Britain consistently fail to produce a Grand Slam champion.

"People ask me why there are so many good tennis players in the Czech Republic and it's because tennis is more accessible," she said.

"There are a lot of clubs and you can be a member for like a hundred dollars a year. You get decent coaching and equipment and it's all accessible.

"Here there's so many more people and not so many tennis courts. It's an expensive sport unless you come from a middle-class family."
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 10:06 PM
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She's got a good point, but "losing is the British way" is a very unfair and cruel generalisation. There are plenty of other sports we participate in where losing is certainly not the British way.

I would say, however, that British tennis players seem to suffer from a lack of self-belief and an almost fatalistic attitude about the outcome of their matches, as though they were expecting themselves to underperform. I remember seeing the British duo of Maclagan and Parmar being interviewed in Sydney in February having lost the crucial doubles rubber and the tie to Australia, and Parmar said of Hewitt and Woodbridge, "You know, you can't give these guys a two-set lead and expect to win." At that moment, I felt like jumping up and shouting at the TV, "Well, why did you then?" It sounds silly, but...

Still, I'm optimistic that we can reverse the trend. And I still reckon that a lot of Henman's Wimbledon defeats have not been through his own mental failings. He lost to Sampras and Hewitt, both world no. 1s, and to two huge serves, Philippoussis and Ivanisevic, in fluctuating five-set matches where the outcome was really out of his hands.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 10:10 PM
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It's got nothing to do with the attitude of the players, the problem is there aren't enough of them. Tennis isn't popular enough or accessible enough to appeal to the kind of people who want to be successful.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 10:12 PM
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shes right in saying that the press build up talent so much...look@ the England soccer squad. half of them arent even out of nappies yet, but they are being hailed as the next great thing

a lot of the British sports(wo)men lack the ruthless attitude needed to succeed...most of our most talented sports stars arent Tim Henman sort of quiet/nice.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 10:27 PM
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Cool

Hi, Hendouble!


Maybe Martina was a bit cruel making that statement, but well, you
know her--what she calls "being frank" is often equivalant to "being
rude", LOL.

Still and all, she does have a point about British tennis. Sure, there
are sports like football and other sports you guys do well in, but
it's hard to think of many individual sports that y'all excell in. I just
finished reading a really good tennis book by Peter Bodo called
"The Courts of Babylon." One of the chapters is entitled 'Wimbledon:
Bath Buns, Bad Bounces, and Why Nigel Can't Play,' in which he
outlines what I believe to be the real reasons there are so few
good British players. You should try and get a copy of this book;
even though it came out in 1995, it's still spot-on in a lot of
areas.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 2003, 10:42 PM
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In fairness I would mention athletics and Golf as individual sports in which we've been quite successful...in the mens side, in Europe we have record that comapre favourably with almost anyone...and Id wager weve given stronger players to the ryder cup teams over the years than any other European nation...

Outside of Wimbledon fortnight tennis simply isn't a big sport here...outside of the GS tournies it would barely merit a paragraph or two, even in good newspapers...

In the broad sense, we are a bit rubbish...but I think we kind of know it...it has its bad side (self destructive, neurotic) but we seldom get the chance to be arrogant about how good we are, like one or two other nations might.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 12:24 AM
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i dont think we lack the killer instinct, its just tennis sint that big of a sport here, and we dont have tennis stars, only henman.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 03:59 AM
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Brit's lack a "killer instinct" is another cr*p stereotype, another one is Brits like to play fair and don't like to cheat. But, look at f-ing owen diving against slovakia to get a penality. Brit's don't do good in tennis b/c they get interested in tennis only for about two weeks/year.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bezza
i dont think we lack the killer instinct, its just tennis sint that big of a sport here, and we dont have tennis stars, only henman.
(You have my condolances re Henman)

Yeah, but doesn't it gall even a little bit? The British basically
INVENTED lawn tennis! You should put more effort into it!
Do you think Canadians would be content to suck at hockey?
HELL NO!!!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eta psi
Brit's lack a "killer instinct" is another cr*p stereotype, another one is Brits like to play fair and don't like to cheat. But, look at f-ing owen diving against slovakia to get a penality. Brit's don't do good in tennis b/c they get interested in tennis only for about two weeks/year.
im guessing u dont understand the rules of soccer
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 02:52 PM
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(Lennox Lewis invites those who SJW would say "take the piss outta Britain" to take things outside)!
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 02:53 PM
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Hey, has Jane O'Donoghue(sp) entered a tournament since Wimby 2002?

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 02:58 PM
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Britain should produce more top 100 players after all we get soooo much development money from Wimbledon. There are a few problems imo:

1) only recently are the juniors being taught 'the modern game' up until recently every player had a 'lovely' eastern grip forehand and a 'lovely' sliced backhand' and 'oooh' they have a 'lovely' all court game. It might have been lovely, but players had no big weapons like a huge forehand or backhand or serve (leave Greg out of this). It seems that coaches in the UK were just too snoibbish about western grips and players that stay back hitting the hell out of the ball.

2) Britain does produce some good juniors. But the transistion from junior tournaments, to challengers to the top tournaments is crap. Players have it too easy, losing is accepted too readily. They still know that they will get wild cards etc. How many times do you hear Brits say how happy they are that they won a set even though they lost the match and that they will 'take a lot of positive things from the match' give me a break YOU JUST LOST!!

3) Wimbledon may bring in truck loads of money but in some ways it hinders progree. Players in the UK depend upon getting WCs into qualies or even the main tournament this can result in being lazy (for want of a better word). Players in the UK put too much emphasis on grass court tennis. Let me ask you; you are a pro player, if you could choose which surface had to be your worst (in terms of playing well) which would it be? You make Wimbledon the focus of your year. You spend weeks and weeks getting good on grass for what? How about making RG the focus?

There are changes happening already. The WC system has changed and 'announcements are expected after Wimbledon' time will tell........
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 03:03 PM
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Well in fairness the LTA hired Carl Maes as coach @ one of their 5 official academies after he and Kimmie split last year. Plus who knows how good hard-hitting Bally might be if not for the rare illness.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 2003, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
It's got nothing to do with the attitude of the players, the problem is there aren't enough of them. Tennis isn't popular enough or accessible enough to appeal to the kind of people who want to be successful.
Tennis is the LEAST POPULAR sport in America and yet half of the top 10 women are American and the best male player in the world this year is American and we have about a dozen men in the top 100. So, tennis not being "popular" is no excuse.

I have wondered for years why there aren't any great British tennis players. With all the money Wimbledon makes why aren't there more tennis courts built and efforts made to get kids from non-middleclass families to play? It's baffling. Somebody should do some investigating.

Tim Henman is the best the Brits have and he's only half-way decent during Wimbledon. He's never won a big tournament or a Masters and he doesn't even do well at a Slam, except for Wimbledon.

As for the women . . . I believe the #1 Brit woman is down in the 200s in the world. That's pretty pathetic for a major sports country like Britain.
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