PDA

View Full Version : Okay. How does Maria stop losing in crucial Semis?


xan
Jul 7th, 2006, 12:24 PM
This is getting beyond a joke. FIVE Grand Slam Semis since Wimbledon 2004, and Maria has lost ALL of them, usually in tight matches. What's happening - and any solutions?


I'm tending to think that it's all about Maria's serve - improved since last year, but she still loses it too often. That's how she gets in 0-4 holes and loses 5-2 leads. It's still too easy for players to get back in play. It needs to get more like a male serve, broken once a set if you're lucky. Even Vaidisova's serve seems much more solid in this respect.

Maria Croft
Jul 7th, 2006, 12:56 PM
ehum? how about her opponents are damn good and are always playing amazing tennis against her.

It's not like she ever got an easy SF so far, her day that she will reach a slam final will come soon enough.

johnoo
Jul 7th, 2006, 01:09 PM
I just think she needs to play more,and more importantly for me against top players,forget birmingham next year go for queens,play these players like henin more and wins will come and with that the confidence she can beat them,the last 3 semis have gone to 3 setters and shes faded,from what she says she does not like running much but for someone her age she could be fitter.

Andy.
Jul 7th, 2006, 01:10 PM
She will get over that hurdle eventually, look how much younger she is compared to everyone else in the top 10. Her game is still a wor in progress and developing all the time, by the time she is in her early 20's she is going to be really tough to beat.

myxomatosis
Jul 7th, 2006, 01:58 PM
Agreed with everything said so far.
Maria needs to get a bit fitter, at this point likely build up a bit more confidence going into SF's (the consistent losses there must have a bit of an effect on the psyche), and most importantly keep working on the weaker aspects of her game.
She's losing to amazing opponents, so there's not really any shame in that. But I think give it 1 or even 2 years and Maria will be holding another GS trophy.

WC6320
Jul 7th, 2006, 03:53 PM
I agree with all you guys. Her time will come. Yes, i think next year she needs to play eastbourne instead of Birmingham so she can get more experience in playing those dreaded top 3 girls. But I can guarentee you that it won't be long before we see her lifting up another GS trophy.

Btw, I'm kinda new to this site even though I signed up awhile ago and this is the first time I have posted in this Maria section. I'm just waiting to earn some vcash so I can make an avatar and a sig with Masha in it. Hi all :wavey:

furrykitten
Jul 7th, 2006, 04:36 PM
Yeah Maria's time will definately come, it was pointed out to me by Craig that Serena Williams won her first slam, then didn't make the final of another for 2 years so if Maria is doing similiar to Serena, it can't be a bad thing at all.

xan
Jul 8th, 2006, 01:58 PM
I'm still not sure about Maria playing "Queens" - do you mean Eastbourne? I would hate for her to win eastbourne and then lose at Wimbledon because she's worn out.

And yes, Maria's had rock solid semi-final opponents each time, but she has to break her duck sometime. If she can hold serve better, that would make a big difference.

johnoo
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:18 PM
I'm still not sure about Maria playing "Queens" - do you mean Eastbourne? I would hate for her to win eastbourne and then lose at Wimbledon because she's worn out.

And yes, Maria's had rock solid semi-final opponents each time, but she has to break her duck sometime. If she can hold serve better, that would make a big difference.
LOL :lol: shit that would be funny,holy cow I just picked that up,bloody hell that gave me a laugh :lol:

johnoo
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:19 PM
yes eastbourne of course.

myxomatosis
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:23 PM
LOL :lol: shit that would be funny,holy cow I just picked that up,bloody hell that gave me a laugh :lol:I think I may get it but really I'm not sure I do. And maybe it's best not to be explained. :lol: :tape:

johnoo
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:25 PM
Queens is the mens tournament,nadal etc :lol:

myxomatosis
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Queens is the mens tournament,nadal etc :lol:
Oh. Well that's a let down. I thought it had something to do with "breaking" and a duck and well, I'm going to shut up now ;)

Maria vs. Nadal would be the screamingest screamfest ever. :hearts:

johnoo
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:36 PM
Oh. Well that's a let down. I thought it had something to do with "breaking" and a duck and well, I'm going to shut up now ;)

Maria vs. Nadal would be the screamingest screamfest ever. :hearts:
no sorry nothing as interesting as that,just thought it was funny maria playing queens against the men,be good practice for her though. :)

BaRaDang22
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:56 PM
Lessen the unforced errors. Has anyone noticed that she usually loses to the eventual champion?

johnoo
Jul 8th, 2006, 04:19 PM
Lessen the unforced errors. Has anyone noticed that she usually loses to the eventual champion?
yeah but what a lost chance,fully fit I think she would have won that semi and the final,I'm pretty optimistic that maria really can dominate in the future she's really almost there and lets face she's hardly played since miami,if she can stay injury free and focused nothing will stop her. :)

msharafan
Jul 9th, 2006, 10:26 PM
i think injuries have really halted marias progress thus far and since 2005. if you look back to indian wells maria was playing fabulous tennis, and if she can have a solid injury free hardcourt season i really think she can go very far at the us open! i mean last year she hardly had any match practice and she came close enough to beating an in top form kim! so you never know what might happen! also i think maria has a better chance of beating the likes of amelie and justine on this surface as the ball doesnt take to all the spin and slice as effectively and doesnt and wont bother maria as much!

lakan kildap
Jul 10th, 2006, 04:40 AM
Win? Play better? Sorry... I don't know exactly how.

We can all talk all day about

*how much she's improved, or
*what she needs to improve

but the only line that matters now is:

Sharapova def. (insert name of player here)
(insert scoreline here)

The playing style shouldn't be a problem. Lindsay Davenport plays essentially the same game (and I emphasize essentially, because they're not 100% the same), but she managed to beat Clijsters and Mauresmo during her two-year 2004-05 run. So why doesn't Maria?

myxomatosis
Jul 10th, 2006, 05:55 AM
Win? Play better? Sorry... I don't know exactly how.

We can all talk all day about

*how much she's improved, or
*what she needs to improve

but the only line that matters now is:

Sharapova def. (insert name of player here)
(insert scoreline here)

The playing style shouldn't be a problem. Lindsay Davenport plays essentially the same game (and I emphasize essentially, because they're not 100% the same), but she managed to beat Clijsters and Mauresmo during her two-year 2004-05 run. So why doesn't Maria?But right now it's seeming more like:

Mauresmo/JHH/Clijsters/etc. def. Sharapova.

Thus, looking at areas for improvement do matter. If Maria doesn't keep improving, she's going to keep losing, it's as simple as that. And as great a player as Davenport is, I don't think anyone in the Maria camp is going to be content to let Maria just emulate the Davenport style of play. Since her last GS win at the AO 6 years ago, she's lost in an awful lot of QF's and SF's in majors. She's of course made it to a couple of finals as well, but Maria's clearly going to need something even more if she's going to hold up another major trophy (which I have no doubt that she will).

lakan kildap
Jul 10th, 2006, 06:22 AM
Personally, I'd prefer wins.

IMO areas for improvement are nothing but for our own gratification; so we'll have something to discuss.

I'd take wins over Mauresmo, Clijsters and Henin anytime.

myxomatosis
Jul 10th, 2006, 06:40 AM
Personally, I'd prefer wins.

IMO areas for improvement are nothing but for our own gratification; so we'll have something to discuss.

I'd take wins over Mauresmo, Clijsters and Henin anytime.Oh, we're definitely agreed on the wins part. :lol:
My point is just that without the improvements, it's going to be increasingly difficult to get the wins. Any pro athlete knows that they cannot just rest on their haunches and hope that nobody better comes along. Even if you're at the top of your game, you have to be constantly looking for things that can maybe be done just that much better in order to keep ahead of the game.

johnoo
Jul 10th, 2006, 06:48 PM
Win? Play better? Sorry... I don't know exactly how.

We can all talk all day about

*how much she's improved, or
*what she needs to improve

but the only line that matters now is:

Sharapova def. (insert name of player here)
(insert scoreline here)

The playing style shouldn't be a problem. Lindsay Davenport plays essentially the same game (and I emphasize essentially, because they're not 100% the same), but she managed to beat Clijsters and Mauresmo during her two-year 2004-05 run. So why doesn't Maria?
I agree with the davenport thing,lets face it for the most part the volley is dead,davenport had/has fully grown into her frame as will maria,by the way despite bis I really like to watch davenport and in the indoor circuit late on last year she was awesome to watch,IMO a big powerful serve hard hitting balls always win so lets not mess things up to much.

lakan kildap
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:36 AM
I agree with the davenport thing,lets face it for the most part the volley is dead,davenport had/has fully grown into her frame as will maria,by the way despite bis I really like to watch davenport and in the indoor circuit late on last year she was awesome to watch,IMO a big powerful serve hard hitting balls always win so lets not mess things up to much.

I think the best appreciation of Lindsay (I like calling her by her first name, even though we've never met) is in this Tennis magazine article on the 40 greatest players of that magazine's era:
http://www.tennis.com/features/40greatest/40greatest.aspx?id=622

and there, I think is where Lindsay has the edge over Maria: the sheer weight of shot. Maria is quite a power player herself, but she just doesn't have the same power. Lindsay's serving, at her best, was also better, because it had more weight, and she mixes up the angles/location more, and she lands it well. Down the T, or out wide to hit the line, or right into the body. She mixes it up. Maria's serve is powerful, even with the injury, but her location is predictable. It's always safe, right in the middle of the box.

I was one of those who wanted more variety in Maria's game, but she has already spent way too much energy learning to volley and slice, and I don't think the cost-vs.-benefit ratio is working in her favor. Also, she just doesn't have the natural footspeed to become effective at attacking the net. So I'm for going back, as horrible as that sounds. A lot of people have already written about this: maybe what Maria needs to do is just be fearless again. So much pressure was on her after '04 Wimbledon, and she immediately hit a wall, losing infamously at the Pilot Pen (she's never gone back) and then in the 3R of the '04 USO (after taking the first set easily). Maybe the expectations, and the losses, took a lot out of her confidence. It's no longer possible to go back to the not-yet-so-famous Sharapova, because she is so famous, but if she can be like that player again mentally...

furrykitten
Jul 11th, 2006, 09:49 AM
If else fails if the the Umpire happens to be male she could bribe him with certain favours so he gives her some suspicious calls ;)

myxomatosis
Jul 11th, 2006, 11:17 AM
If else fails if the the Umpire happens to be male she could bribe him with certain favours so he gives her some suspicious calls ;)Yes, but unless the umpire is a small child, I don't think he's going to be all that swayed by Maria's promises of free candy.
Unless you had some other sort of bribing in mind? :devil:

Maria Croft
Jul 11th, 2006, 01:52 PM
I think winning them would be a good cure for losing them ;)

xan
Jul 12th, 2006, 12:14 PM
But right now it's seeming more like:

Mauresmo/JHH/Clijsters/etc. def. Sharapova.

Thus, looking at areas for improvement do matter. If Maria doesn't keep improving, she's going to keep losing, it's as simple as that. And as great a player as Davenport is, I don't think anyone in the Maria camp is going to be content to let Maria just emulate the Davenport style of play. Since her last GS win at the AO 6 years ago, she's lost in an awful lot of QF's and SF's in majors. She's of course made it to a couple of finals as well, but Maria's clearly going to need something even more if she's going to hold up another major trophy (which I have no doubt that she will).

Maria certainly has the game to win a major right now. It would just take a little bit of luck, Maria being on top form at the right time and her semi and final opponents not playing the match of their lives against her.

What Maria DOESN'T yet have is the game to dominate the top players. (Mauresmo, Clijsters, Henin, Kuznetsova etc.) When she's playing her absolute best, no-one can live with it, but she only usually does that for about three or four games at a stretch.

As far as I can see, to be able to beat the top players regularly she needs to hold her serve more securely. Like the guys, or prople like davenport, she should only lose serve once a match or so. To do this she needs more variety and kick in her first serve.

She also needs to get more secure at the net, to cut the points short when players try to run her around.

Shinjiro
Jul 13th, 2006, 09:04 PM
Serve-and-Volley more often. :lick:

myxomatosis
Jul 13th, 2006, 10:39 PM
Maria certainly has the game to win a major right now. It would just take a little bit of luck, Maria being on top form at the right time and her semi and final opponents not playing the match of their lives against her.

What Maria DOESN'T yet have is the game to dominate the top players. (Mauresmo, Clijsters, Henin, Kuznetsova etc.) When she's playing her absolute best, no-one can live with it, but she only usually does that for about three or four games at a stretch.

As far as I can see, to be able to beat the top players regularly she needs to hold her serve more securely. Like the guys, or prople like davenport, she should only lose serve once a match or so. To do this she needs more variety and kick in her first serve.

She also needs to get more secure at the net, to cut the points short when players try to run her around.Agreed 100%

Maria Croft
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:06 AM
Serve-and-Volley more often. :lick:


I think that's a terrible idea, come in more often, yes.
But don't serve and volley, it's just not her game.

andrewbroad
Jul 14th, 2006, 07:18 PM
To stop losing crucial semis, Maria needs to think which of the following reasons she can best address:

She tends to meet the toughest opponents only in semi-finals, and they always play their best against her.
She keeps going into Grand Slams with insufficient match-play due to injuries.
She comes to the net a lot in semi-finals, without having come in enough in earlier rounds not to be let down by poor volleys.
In the semis she runs for every ball, regardless of whether it is reachable or not. When she has a let-down in the third set, it's probably tiredness rather than nerves.
These words are my own, so feel free to dispute or add to them.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/)

johnoo
Jul 14th, 2006, 07:33 PM
To stop losing crucial semis, Maria needs to think which of the following reasons she can best address:

She tends to meet the toughest opponents only in semi-finals, and they always play their best against her.
She keeps going into Grand Slams with insufficient match-play due to injuries.
She comes to the net a lot in semi-finals, without having come in enough in earlier rounds not to be let down by poor volleys.
In the semis she runs for every ball, regardless of whether it is reachable or not. When she has a let-down in the third set, it's probably tiredness rather than nerves.
These words are my own, so feel free to dispute or add to them.

I agree with this one
"She comes to the net a lot in semi-finals, without having come in enough in earlier rounds not to be let down by poor volleys
but injuries/opponents theres not a lot she can really do about that? and if she's come into a tournament with a lack of match practice well its gonna tell in a 3 setter,I'm guessing we are going to have to wait till she comes in a GS fully fit,I'm guessing the last time was FO 2005 because I know at birmingham last year she was not right and also at wim 2005,what do you think was it FO 2005 she last came into a GS fit?

mboyle
Jul 14th, 2006, 10:18 PM
Her serve is not a problem. It is actually the most effective serve on tour at the moment. You just aren't going to get many cheap points against the top players unless you are Serena Williams and you actually care about tennis.

1. Strength--Maria needs to get much stronger. When you look at her legs, there is no comparing them to anyone else's in the top ten. Hers are legs of a model, not an athlete. Until she toughens up her quads, she will not be able to spring to that first step as quickly as Sveta "I'm secretly a man" Kuznetsova, for example.

2. Conditioning--Maria lost to Justine and to Serena in Oz because she cannot last three sets yet. She also looked wiped out against Amelie in that third set. Maria needs to be in as good of shape as Justine, Kim and Amelie in order to be able to compete with them.

3. Net play--This has been improving the most. Maria has a perfect serve, a perfect backhand and a near perfect forehand that is not really going to improve anymore. She is on the offensive from the first strike of the ball in 95% of points against everyone outside of the Williams sisters, where she is the only player I have seen get in control of 50% or more of points on a consistent basis. However, the top players today are damn fast, and Maria is impatient. When things get tight or when the balls keep coming back, Maria tries to go for even more, and she can't, because she is already coming dangerously close to the lines. However, if you notice, Maria gets players on the run and stretched really far so that they merely are slicing balls back. If Maria comes to net time after time and can hit those first volleys, she will never be beaten in a match again. She might lose it due to errors on a bad day, but she will never be beaten. I guarantee it.

mboyle
Jul 14th, 2006, 10:20 PM
At this point, however, I see three players that can consistently beat Maria:

J2H
Kim Clijsters
Amelie Mauresmo

Svetlana will beat her one out of three matches. No one else on tour will beat her often.

The_Pov
Jul 14th, 2006, 10:24 PM
2. Conditioning--Maria lost to Justine and to Serena in Oz because she cannot last three sets yet. She also looked wiped out against Amelie in that third set. Maria needs to be in as good of shape as Justine, Kim and Amelie in order to be able to compete with them.


If I remember correctly Maria won several 3 setters over top players to get her Wimbledon title and her YEC title in 2004, she's stronger and fitter than she was back then.

I think the problem with playing a 3 setter is her opponents find a way to beat her. The way to solve this is to mix up her game a bit more, to throw off her opponents, and she trying to do that by adding new dimensions to her game, like coming to the net more!

johnoo
Jul 14th, 2006, 10:32 PM
Maria is impatient.
now this I think is the real problem,I thought at IW and miami (till the final) she was so patient and it brought results,she seems to have slipped back to her old ways,maybe the lack of fitness is causing that,like I say I will judge her going into a GS fully fit and with tournaments behind her,lets hope its the US Open.

Dan23
Jul 15th, 2006, 04:06 AM
Cutting off points at the net is crucial and Maria knows it. She is beginning to sense the opportunity to come in when opponents are forced to just float balls back. What was impressive at Wimby was her willingness to continue even though things didnt go right sometimes, the more she does that the better she will get. It does look really good and natural when she gets it right. Getting balls off her toes is another area that she needs work but for her height she does that ok, its just getting the ball back in the right area.

Dan23
Jul 15th, 2006, 04:10 AM
now this I think is the real problem,I thought at IW and miami (till the final) she was so patient and it brought results,she seems to have slipped back to her old ways,maybe the lack of fitness is causing that,like I say I will judge her going into a GS fully fit and with tournaments behind her,lets hope its the US Open.
these few lead up tournaments are really important for her going into the USO

Andy.
Jul 15th, 2006, 05:14 AM
these few lead up tournaments are really important for her going into the USO
Exactly health is the key, she hasnt gone into a smal healthy in over a year so if she can stay healthy over the US Hardcourt season who knows what she can do.

Maria Croft
Jul 15th, 2006, 06:51 AM
I agree with both your posts Dan :yeah:

~lollipop_girl~
Jul 15th, 2006, 02:48 PM
Her serve is not a problem. It is actually the most effective serve on tour at the moment. You just aren't going to get many cheap points against the top players unless you are Serena Williams and you actually care about tennis.

1. Strength--Maria needs to get much stronger. When you look at her legs, there is no comparing them to anyone else's in the top ten. Hers are legs of a model, not an athlete. Until she toughens up her quads, she will not be able to spring to that first step as quickly as Sveta "I'm secretly a man" Kuznetsova, for example.

2. Conditioning--Maria lost to Justine and to Serena in Oz because she cannot last three sets yet. She also looked wiped out against Amelie in that third set. Maria needs to be in as good of shape as Justine, Kim and Amelie in order to be able to compete with them.

3. Net play--This has been improving the most. Maria has a perfect serve, a perfect backhand and a near perfect forehand that is not really going to improve anymore. She is on the offensive from the first strike of the ball in 95% of points against everyone outside of the Williams sisters, where she is the only player I have seen get in control of 50% or more of points on a consistent basis. However, the top players today are damn fast, and Maria is impatient. When things get tight or when the balls keep coming back, Maria tries to go for even more, and she can't, because she is already coming dangerously close to the lines. However, if you notice, Maria gets players on the run and stretched really far so that they merely are slicing balls back. If Maria comes to net time after time and can hit those first volleys, she will never be beaten in a match again. She might lose it due to errors on a bad day, but she will never be beaten. I guarantee it.
I pretty much agree with everything there so I can't be bothered picking out points as I'd have to pretty much use it all! :p

The 3 players you mentioned beating her consistently are also exactly right but I also think if she doesn't pick her game up soon & improve on what needs to be improved the younger players who are making a massive mark are gonna start finding ways to beat her too!

Il Primo!
Jul 15th, 2006, 03:28 PM
I'd also add she seriously lacks lucidity during "the money times". I mean, at the beginning of the third set against Momo, she was up 30 -0 and she takes lots of risks instead of playing like she did to get the edge.
It's always the same story, she takes too many risks when she can take the advantage. It's maybe due to the fact she's impatient, but if she loses it's also due to her nerves. She's not focused and calm enough

lakan kildap
Jul 17th, 2006, 03:22 AM
She also gives away too much in terms of psychological advantage to the opponent. Against Mauresmo, Maria would miss a shot, then spend several seconds at the spot where she made the error, wide-eyed in shock, gesturing with her hands how the shot should have gone, talking to herself, etc. All this expressiveness is good for TV, and some people might say it makes the sport more "human", but really, you don't want to give the opponent too much confidence. Especially an opponnent like Mauresmo, who is only recently coming to terms with her own psychological baggage.

andrewbroad
Jul 19th, 2006, 12:59 AM
Maybe Maria should play a few doubles-only tournaments to improve her volleys. She hasn't played doubles since Birmingham 2005 (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/birmingham2005.html) because it's so important that she saves herself for singles, but she's only played 14 singles-tournaments in that time anyway.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/)

Maria Croft
Jul 19th, 2006, 06:54 AM
I think she has proved at Wimbledon that she is improving her volleys even without playing doubles, but she needs more time.

xan
Jul 23rd, 2006, 02:51 PM
Her serve is not a problem. It is actually the most effective serve on tour at the moment. You just aren't going to get many cheap points against the top players unless you are Serena Williams and you actually care about tennis.

I'm not saying Maria's serve is bad. Its just that she is not holding her serve games easily enough and can often lose two or more in a single set. This is bad because then she's never secure even at 5-2 up against a good player. She needs to hold easier, like Davenport or several of the top girl players. With her physique she should be getting two or three cheap points a serve game. To do this she needs to keep the pace up but get more variation on her serve, so opponents don't get grooved.

1. Strength--Maria needs to get much stronger. When you look at her legs, there is no comparing them to anyone else's in the top ten. Hers are legs of a model, not an athlete. Until she toughens up her quads, she will not be able to spring to that first step as quickly as Sveta "I'm secretly a man" Kuznetsova, for example.
Yes. But she's never going to have the build of Kuznetsova or Mauresmo. She needs to focus on her strengths.


2. Conditioning--Maria lost to Justine and to Serena in Oz because she cannot last three sets yet. She also looked wiped out against Amelie in that third set. Maria needs to be in as good of shape as Justine, Kim and Amelie in order to be able to compete with them.
Good point.

3. Net play--This has been improving the most. Maria has a perfect serve, a perfect backhand and a near perfect forehand that is not really going to improve anymore. She is on the offensive from the first strike of the ball in 95% of points against everyone outside of the Williams sisters, where she is the only player I have seen get in control of 50% or more of points on a consistent basis. However, the top players today are damn fast, and Maria is impatient. When things get tight or when the balls keep coming back, Maria tries to go for even more, and she can't, because she is already coming dangerously close to the lines. However, if you notice, Maria gets players on the run and stretched really far so that they merely are slicing balls back. If Maria comes to net time after time and can hit those first volleys, she will never be beaten in a match again. She might lose it due to errors on a bad day, but she will never be beaten. I guarantee it.

The net play IS important, but for some reason its difficult to change style of play in tournament conditions. Hopefully Maria will work toward this quickly, since the ability to cut points short will help her a lot.