Bad sign for this season was wasting 6-5 *40-00 against Sveta in Sidney.
Till then we were all used to occasional off days when Ana would lose 2 and 2
but this was first time to play solid and lose, crack in her armour. In second half she lost her invincibility against lower ranked players and top100 now
having more and more dangerous upset specialists so if she does not get her
act together we could see even more dissapointing loses next year.
She got to no14 with one good run, there is big probability she could have
2-3 of these next year and get into top10.
We could take this as sophomore slump but she was too consistent in her mediocrity and as i remeber second year slump was custom for solid players and not for great ones.
There was enough talk about her BH and volleys but her absolute worst shot
is block return. 10/10 is out or harmless sitter. No use of that shot at
Out of all younger players she comes to the net most. Are agenda is to make
her a complete player? If that, we all need much more patience and still its doubtfull she can cover all weaknesses enough. For now better solution would be just working on her strenghts and try to make something of her BH. It worked for another young player we all know and most of us hate
About coaches, i still think van Harpen was best for her.
And i disagree that she player particulary well against Pova. Game plan had same weaknesses like against Serena, losing 7-6 or 6-3 is no different.
For her style of play gradual improvement is not very likely so we can expect
nerve breaking year when she will look one day like best player ever and next
day awful. Untill all clicks, hopefully.
Federer had a huge slump in his second year on tour. Sampras, and justine too
Not that it means that ana is going to go the federer way (lacks the same gifts of exceptional footwork, movement and perfect shoulder rotation unfortunately), but there is no pattern or hard and fast rule that determines the timeline of a players' development. Don't be too disappointed because she hasn't progressed the way you thought she might in her second year. She has just been figured out, as a lot of young players are in their second year ( I think the krajicek match was a pretty damning indication of that).
To stay ahead of the pack she has to evolve. She needs to develop better tactical acumen to make the best of her weapons, and cover her weaknesses. For a shotmaker that doesn't develop overnight, but is more of a gradual process of incorporating shot-sequences balanced with low-percentage play rather than suddenly trying to play smart. That takes time. One of the problems is that ana at this point is a jack-of-all trades. She is neither multidimensional, nor is she completely one-dimensional. She neither uses her strengths to their fullest, nor have her finesse shots developed to the point where she can win points with them. But making mistakes is the best way to learn.
Ana was never going to improve by geometric progression like someone like Sharapova, and thats what I think a lot of people expected. Sharapova is a coach-created player and can be spoonfed and moulded. Ana is a more natural player. Her mentality is completely different, and all players should not be judged using early bloomers as yardsticks. Its a question of learning how, and when to play the shots, and thats a question of match experience and lots of it. A lot of players with deficiencies in fitness and movement make bad choices because they are apprehensive of being pushed on the defensive, and so they try to end rallies early. When they have more confidence in their court coverage, and overall game they tend to make smarter choices.
Technically, I think ana's serve is a disappointment, and her backhand hasn't improved as much as needed. It all boils down to not having great shoulder rotation. She needs to work on her footwork, and needs to be more alert on court. The good thing is that she's trying to mix things up, coming to the net more. If she's trying to mix up her groundstrokes too, i'm not really bothered if she loses a few matches (and i hope that is the reason for her recent losses).
The bottom line is, her existing game is not enough to challenge the top players, and she is being worked out by youngsters she used to beat. Its a sign that she's stagnated. Either she adds to her game, makes some tactical changes, and accepts the failures she is going to face along the way, or she gets stuck as a ball-basher. If she chooses the hard way, she is going to have a very tough time in the coming months, but the eventual result will be consistent results. If she chooses to stick with her current game, she'll have periods where she'll make a huge splash, but she'll never really develop sharapova-like consistency. I definitely think she has the goods to become a top player, but as of now I can't really say what kind
of top player she'll become. Just don't set any time-frames for her, or you'll forget to enjoy her game when she does play well, and she can be great to watch.
She wont be another Golovin but
im scared she could become another Patty (for her on court attitude, not off
court "adventures"). Must decide if she wants to just earn for good living or
her goal is to be real top player. Top ten is still very reachable but for now becoming real top player and contender for titles is in doubt.
Jelena had an awful second half of 2005, and looked completely disinterested on court, but look at her now. Don't judge ana's attitude on a weekly basis, because young players whose games are still forming go through their ups and downs. Not everyone is gifted with the emotionless facade of a Sharapova, but that doesn't mean that they'll never develop the attitude of a champion. Justine was not always as determined as she is today. The mental aspect is another facet of player that takes time. AFAIK
ana is not a headcase.
BTW, I completely disagree with the comments about Golovin, because the way I see it golovin may be a totally different player, but her mental makeup is somewhat similiar to ana's, being quite instinctive. She could be a bit of a choker, but now she's showing some real steel. She had a terrible slump in her soph year, much worse than ana's, and I think her development is a good blueprint for ana. She's playing much smarter, although it took a while for her to develop her tactics (and it was because of this she slumped), and at the same time she plays agressive and goes for her shots. She's going to be a terrific player, maybe even better than ana. Golovin may have stagnated in terms of ranking for a couple of years, but she's shown vast improvement in her game, and I think the results are going to start showing soon. We don't need to get discouraged if ana also stagnates for a while.