article on patty -
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2005, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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article on patty

Here is a story I found on the interent that you might find interesting:

Schnyder's grand ambition
By Ian Cockerill
January 15, 2005

There was a moment during Thursday's quarter-final in Sydney when tennis fans got a glimpse of the Patty Schnyder aficionados know as the female Marcelo Rios.

Like the Chilean, Schnyder is a leftie with a lot of hair and a lot of panache.

And like the former men's No. 1, the 26-year-old Swiss has what might politely be described as a mercurial temperament.

The 2004 Australian Open semi-finalist was trailing 1-3, 15-30 in the third set against world No. 6 Elena Dementieva, with the Russian serving. Both players had arrived at the Sydney International on a hot streak.

Schnyder had just picked up her ninth WTA title on the Gold Coast and 2004 French and US Open finalist Dementieva had beaten Venus Williams in the final of an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong.

World No. 14 Schnyder clearly had designs on maintaining the winning form she hopes will finally net a grand slam title this year - with the Australian Open large in her sights.

But the stifling heat was tearing at both players and, when a double-fault call was overruled by the chair umpire, Schnyder's temperature quickly soared. Among the loud mutter of German words that followed, one - "schiess!" - did not need much interpretation.

Within seconds, Schnyder's sense of injustice overflowed when Dementieva made the most of her reprieve with a rare second-serve winner. Suddenly and loudly, Schnyder smashed her racquet into the court, leaving a colourful scar at her feet. Those close enough heard a sharp snap.

Ignoring her broken wand, Schnyder moved across to receive serve and promptly won the point before walking calmly to her bag to retrieve a new racquet. Nothing could retrieve her broken resistance, though, as Dementieva closed out the match 6-1.

"That was the match there," said Schnyder half an hour later, when the contentious point was recalled. Asked whether her temperament worked against her at such moments, she shrugged.

"You can plan all you like, but you can't always be in control of your emotions on court," she said.

Indeed. One brings to mind her match against Conchita Martinez last April, when she was so infuriated by the Spaniard's habit of looking for the winning ball that she withdrew her hand at the net after a straight-sets loss.

That Martinez (8-2) has had the wood on her, stretching back to the 1996 Olympics, did not help. But if you are thinking Schnyder might be contrite, think again.

"I respect Conchita, but I had to let her know how I felt straight afterwards," said Schnyder. "She's a good enough player not to do those things."

Patty Schnyder looks to her supporters as she defeats Lisa Raymond.

As for any sense that the WTA Tour is one, big family, Schnyder is not one for sentimentality. She and Martinez have never been friends. "You can't be friends with everyone on the tour - that's just not realistic," she said.

Rather than look for friendship among her peers, Schnyder leans heavily on the support of her husband of 13 months, Rainer Hoffmann. His companionship has been a big factor in Schnyder belatedly feeling comfortable with her calling as a tennis pro on the world circuit.

That certainty has flowed into her game, propelling her back towards the top-10 spot she seemed destined to inhabit from the time she reached No. 8 as a 20-year-old in 1999.

Why that destiny altered course has been well documented. In short, between the 1998 and 1999 seasons, Schnyder fell for a dodgy German "faith healer" more than twice her age. In the space of five months, Rainer Harnecker took the place of her boyfriend, her coach and her family.

Under Harnecker's guidance she drank up to three litres of freshly squeezed orange juice a day. She all but tanked a match against Anna Kournikova because she objected to the Russian's sex-kitten image.

"I hate playing her," she huffed afterwards. She was dumped from the Swiss Fed Cup team for ducking practice and sponsors started cancelling contracts.

With her family's help - and a little police intervention - she managed to pull out of her tailspin and away from Harnecker. But the experience sent her game backwards. By the end of 1999 she was ranked 21. Two years later she slid to No. 37.

In 2002 she began putting it together again and now, with retirement not too distant, she is racing to make up for lost time.

"A couple of things have changed in my private life," said Schnyder by way of explaining her present form and state of happiness. "I've developed as a person and my whole life is more settled. And I'm sure tennis is what I want to do now."

Fans who enjoy their tennis dished up with finesse can hope only that Schnyder's new-found focus enables her to leave a lasting mark on the game. Thus far she has reached a slam final four only once in 34 outings. But, just as low-bouncing Wimbledon is a bust for her (one third-round appearance in nine visits), the high bounce of the Rebound Ace courts in Australia suits her game.

While she hesitates to make any bold predictions beyond navigating the opening two rounds - the rounds that have ended half her slam campaigns - Schnyder is in no doubt that she is a better player than when she started. "I feel I have more wins in me," she said. "I can't play the whole year as consistently as other players, but when I'm on my game I can beat anybody."

She would dearly like to get her game working in Melbourne, in a country where she feels at home. After last year's semi-final experience, she amended her official WTA profile from "also loves Australia" to read "Loves Australia and would like to live there after tennis career".

There's another reason to win in Melbourne. As Jennifer Capriati found, gifted players will not stop hearing questions about their "lost" years until they complete the redemption tale by winning a slam. The same applies to Schnyder.

"It's funny how long it sticks with you," said Schnyder. "When no one in Switzerland was talking about it any more, I was still being asked about it."

With a little help from the same fire in the belly that took Rios to the 1998 Australian Open final, the next fortnight could put an end to that.

"The fifth set has nothing to do with tennis, it is all about heart." --Boris Becker

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old Feb 2nd, 2005, 02:01 AM
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Cool article-thanks for sharing it
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old Feb 2nd, 2005, 05:39 PM
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Was good to see a feature article on Patty but the author should have just left Patty's personal life out of it completely. The fact that all he really knew about Patty's story was the old orange juice bit that has been written already thousands of times, shows how clueless and misinformed this reporter was. The tennis part of the article was much better and at least it had some new quotes...
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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nice article, thanks
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