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Amelie: the new Novotna - stylewise
It's a true joy watching Amelie Mauresmo accomplishing what so many women's players say they want to do and never can: transform herself from a baseliner to a net rusher. She knows that it's the only way she's going to get to the top.
"Even in 1999 I was talking about it , but it didn't click,' she told tr. net. "But I made the decision to change last year and it was time for me to do it. I had to be sure that it was the right way to go. I know I'll improve doing this because the more things you can do, the more choices you have in your game and the better you are. If you only know how to do one thing and your opponents know how to play you, then what do you do?"
On Monday, Mauresmo used tremendous variety to unearth Magui Serna, a tricky Spanish lefty who attempted to trip up the Frenchwoman with her slice backhand and rolling forehand. Mauresmo charged the net, kept the ball deep from the ground and pounced on her opponent's second serves.
"I'm very happy with how I played tactically," said Mauresmo. "I didn't let her control the match likes he loves to do. I didn't give her any rhythm so she couldn't put enough pressure on me."
Fans have known Mauresmo since, as a virtual unknown, she stunned Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals of the 1999 Australian Open. In the final, she lost a difficult two-setter to Martina Hingis. But although she has racked up eight titles and a number of wins over elite players since then, Mauresmo didn't repeat her early Grand Slam success until last year, when she reached the Wimbledon and US Open semis. Some of that had to do with a back injury, which kept her out of play for decent portions of 2000 and 2001, and some of it had to do with her immaturity.
"I'm a very different player now and I've improved a lot in all the different areas of the game, mentally, physically, and even technically I can do many different things," she said. "I'm happy about that. I've become a better person, more mature and more experienced. I love this life. Before I didn't realize that I was lucky to do what I love to do and not to really work and only play tennis. I didn't really sit down and think about my life. Now I realize it. When I was out with my knee injury for a long time, I finally realized I have a good life and I'm proud of it. When you can play and you want to compete, it's very frustrating. That's when you realize you want to play again even if it's hard."
The 23-year-old Mauresmo believes that her increasing maturity and newfound commitment to attacking the net could eventually lead her past the Williamses, who have combined to win seven of the last nine Grand Slams.
"My goal is to reach No. 1 ," Mauresmo said. "Whether it's going to happen in a month, a year, or five years, I don't know. Everyone has a goal in life and in my tennis life, that's mine."
While the eighth-ranked Frenchwoman did have success last year, Venus and Serena still had her number. At the All-England Club, Serena wasted her in straight sets. In New York, Venus outfought her in a tough three-setter. But after successfully recovering from off-season knee surgery, the muscular all-courter is now confident that she won't be staring up at the top forever.
"After I lost to Serena at Wimbledon I was so frustrated that I said I'd only play for the number three spot," Mauresmo said. "But now I'm thinking nothing is forever. There's going to be a time that I'm going to improve a little and Serena's going to go down a little. You can't be 100 percent all the time."
REMEMBER: Friends don't set fire to each other