PDA

View Full Version : Intimidation: Is it about what players have accomplished? Or HOW they play?


Volcana
Mar 21st, 2007, 06:40 AM
To take two examples

'Chuckie' 1997-8. She walked on the court with that smrik that said, 'get ready to get schooled', and then made her opponents look helpless. Hingis walked to where her opponent was going to hit the ball, and was there waiting for it. To know your opponent was operating on a mental level so far above you ....

Serena 2002-3

a) She was physically so superior. Stronger, faster, better endurance, better serve, harder groundstrokes.

b) She's actually good at figuring out what's goin on in a tennis match, and making adjustments. So even if you got ahead, you knew it wouldn't last.

c) She played like she didn't like you.

d) The second best player lost four straight GS finals to her, and nobody else could beat the second best player either.

You walked on the court knowing you had no say in the outcome.

Measured against that standard, I'd almost say that nobody on today's tour is intimidating.

Serena isn't (I think) the 2002 Serena. Shapapova might argue with me.
Henin isn't arrogant or overpowering. Players go into matches against her thinking they have a chance. Mostly, they are very, VERY wrong of course.
Sharapova has lost her way.
Venus is two years removed from a slam title, and the younger players no doubt all feel they've improved and she hasn't
Mauresmo game is beautiful, but, like Henin's, it isn't scary.
Clijsters lacks the hostility factor.
Kuznetsova, speaking in relative terms, is fat and lack endurance.

If Serena wins Miami, playing the same kind of tennis she played in the OZ final, then I think we have an intimidating player on tour again. Right now, I think the Peer, Vaidisova, Chakvetadze, et al, pretty much show up thinking they've got a real chance.

hingisGOAT
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:45 AM
I think intimidation is comprised of reputation and style of play, but it varies from player to player. One player may be intimidated by Martina but not Serena, and for another player it is the other way around.

I'm not so sure an overpowering game is intimidating for everyone. Some players surely think they have a better chance of defending their way to victory against a power player than trying to blast through a retriever. Personally I feel like nothing is more disheartening than losing a lot of long rallies against someone who doesn't make many errors.

Brian Stewart
Mar 21st, 2007, 08:11 AM
I have to say it's how they play. Intimidating players do 2 things to intimidate their opponents:

1) they take away strengths. Through a combination of speed and anticipation, they often wind up where the opponent is hitting the ball, turning would-be winners into just another shot in the rally.

2) they punish weakness. Not necessarily a weakness in the opponent's game, per se, (although those will be gladly exploited), but a weak shot. If it's too short, too slow, not enough angle, not enough spin, it will be pounced on. Often for an outright winner.

It's these factors that intimidate. The knowledge that not all of your winners will be winners against this player, and that any shot less than good (such as even an average shot) is tantamount to loss of point. Tennis is a turf battle, with the player closer to the net controlling the point. And if you're not the one running the show, you're just plain running. Top it off with the extra relish some players add, such as a Serena Snarl, or Martina's "you don't even belong on the same court as me" grin, and it intimidates.

Now, if a player possesses the wherewithall to intimidate opponents in such a manner, the accomplishments usually follow. Therefore, it's not long before the intimidating player has the added weapon of the impressive bio cited in pre-match intros. So the two go hand in hand.

But this largely applies to the rank-and-file players. It's hard to intimidate other elite players, who have similar weapons. But in those cases where one top player does intimidate another, it's usually reflected in head-to-head results, which are in turn the product of style matchups, which comes back to how they play.

Kunal
Mar 21st, 2007, 08:23 AM
id say that it is both.

the kind of aura that a player has created as a result of dominating the circuit does create intimidation.

take serena for instance, on top of her impressive conditioning.....she is ferocious, she has that passion, that determination and drive and it is just so damn visceral and raw. when she starts off with a good body language during a match, i think even the best players are like.....damn im in for a dog fight

bandabou
Mar 21st, 2007, 09:01 AM
Hmmm...it's a combo. Serena at her top form in '02-'03, was intimidating on any non-clay surface, 'cause of her record and the way she was beating TOP players. I mean, you could count the SETS she lost on hardcourts/ grass barely on one finger.

Justine on clay..scary, 'cause she was so good on the surface.

Must say, Serena was the last truely intimidating player on at least three surfaces..Justine's mostly a clay-courter ( not a diss, it's her strongest surface.)

Volcana
Mar 21st, 2007, 11:10 PM
In giving this further thought, I have to admit I'm influenced by being an ex-fighter. Going in against an intimidating opponent, as opposed to someody who was just better than me, was generally defined by pain. So it was facing someone who had already put a totally non-competitive beat-dqwn on me was initimidating. Losing ten straights times to someone, but I felt I was competitive, just made me want to fight them again.

tennisbum79
Mar 22nd, 2007, 12:13 AM
I would also say it is both, with a slight edge to how one plays.
Serena embodies both this the most.

But what caught my eyes the most in your comments is this:
c) She played like she didn't like you.
People hwo have this trait are usually driven and live in the moment.
They tend to excel in what they put their mind to.

One thing though I disagree with you. You did include Hingis and the period she was
sublimely intimidating. And for the life of me, you failed to give Venus the same
space and relegated her with the likes of Mauresmo and Justine.

Venus started, pioneered the physical intimating "thing" in women tennis, and I think she deserves to be among the top 2 when it comes to this topic.

Having said that, I enjoyed your first post overall

tennisbum79
Mar 22nd, 2007, 12:28 AM
Hingis intimidation was facilitated with fear of being humiliated on the part of
other player.
They were afraid of being ridiculed on the court by Hingis.
Many palyers at the time, look visible uneasy and unfortable when they find themselves in the middle of the court with Hingis
on the other side with plenty of time.

kiwifan
Mar 22nd, 2007, 12:38 AM
Both, I feel that there was a huge intimidation factor with young JCap, Seles (losing to the little kids with the big strokes) and the Williams Sisters (more Venus than the other one) before they ever won anything major.

Also with Hingis it wasn't just the fear of playing her it was the fear of her making you look real stupid on the court both with her play and with her...

..."Chucky-ness" :devil:

tennisbum79
Mar 22nd, 2007, 01:38 AM
I think intimidation is comprised of reputation and style of play, but it varies from player to player. One player may be intimidated by Martina but not Serena, and for another player it is the other way around.

I'm not so sure an overpowering game is intimidating for everyone. Some players surely think they have a better chance of defending their way to victory against a power player than trying to blast through a retriever. Personally I feel like nothing is more disheartening than losing a lot of long rallies against someone who doesn't make many errors.

I think you are nit pciking here.
Of course is meant to be on balance. It does w/o saying there would be exceptions.
Davenport was not intimitaed by Venus or Serena, that does not mean they were not intimiating.
Anna K. may have not have been intimidated by Hingis because of familiarity, but is does not mean Hingis was not intimitating over the crop of players at the time.

samn
Mar 22nd, 2007, 07:55 PM
Venus started, pioneered the physical intimating "thing" in women tennis

Tell that to all the women who walked out on court scared to death of playing Martina Navratilova in the 80s because, according to them, she was big and overpowering.

tennisbum79
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:29 PM
Tell that to all the women who walked out on court scared to death of playing Martina Navratilova in the 80s because, according to them, she was big and overpowering.

That may be true, but Venus took it to a level where even non-tennis fans became aware of it and as result, some went to see matches to witness it for themselves.

The speed of the serve the power of the gound strokes,
the up-in the air voley in mid-court, the leaping overhead (a la Pete Sampras) with beads flying like a Massai woman,
the speed at which she tracked opponent balls,
stepping inside to court to receive opponent first serve,
the service return that is consistently faster then the serve itself.
The chess pump walk on the change over o Every single one of these convey a physicality that I never saw Martina Nav demonstrate.
Venus phyiscal intimidation was even felt by the watching fans who felt sorry for the oppoent.

rjd1111
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:37 PM
The first time I became confident that Serena was going win
the AO was the look on her face when she walked out with Pova.

I can't see how any player coud look across the net at that cold,
menacing stare and not be intimidated. She kept it the whole match.

Nicolás89
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:41 PM
martina was intimidating but not anymore