I get the feeling Mona would benefit from talking to Li Na and Carlos about this aspect of tennis.
Tennis is such a mentally difficult game, it can be such an advantage if you discover your own internal reasons for putting yourself through physical and emotional stress. On the other hand, such a disadvantage- especially in hard matches- if you are oncourt and cannot remember why you are doing something so tough.
Li confirmed in a revealing pre-tournament interview with Fairfax Media that she had told Rodriguez and her husband Jiang Shan last June that she did not want to continue in the sport that delivered a grand slam title at the 2011 French Open, earned her an estimated $18.2 million in 2013, and has guaranteed her megastardom in a land of 1.36 billion.
Rodriguez knows Li expected him to try to talk her out of it. Instead: ''I say, 'If you really like to stop, no problem, go home', and she was really shocked, say 'Why you tell me that?'. 'Because you ask me, and I tell you what I think. If you really want to just stop, stop it, because you play because you love, if you don't love, you don't have the passion any more, go home. You have money and everything to go to the beach, stay with the orange juice, sunny day, until the end of your days. You don't have to be here'.
''[There were] a lot of talks, private talks - it's something that I cannot explain here because it's not about tennis, but many players sometimes play tennis, they don't know why; the reason why they passionate, they love, they work so hard, why they do it. And then when you [work] through that, maybe that makes sense what you do on court, and that is something that she discovered now.''
For Li, the latest vindication, and reward, is a place in her third Melbourne Park title bout in four years, as a heavy favourite for the first time, against Slovakian 20th seed Dominika Cibulkova. In 2011, versus Kim Clijsters, and 2013, in an accident-prone decider against Victoria Azarenka, Li won the first set but lost the match. Rodriguez believes she is a more stable player 12 months on, one who can still start brilliantly, but prevent herself from falling away so deeply.
''It's not a matter of physical skills,'' says Rodriguez, the career-long mentor of retired Belgian great Justine Henin, who has worked with Li since mid-2012. ''She's better physically, yes, she play a little bit more with spin - I can say 'safer', but she cannot play safe, is [not] her game - but at least she has the capacity today to keep the ball in when she's not in the good position to hit [winners] … Adaptability much better, and emotional endurance, to support the stress.''
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/c...#ixzz2rh6UeayT