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View Full Version : Shouldering Problem: article on Maria Sharapova


IceHock
Oct 3rd, 2007, 09:55 PM
Maria Sharapova's 2007 woes boil down to a simple question: Has she merely been hindered by a yearlong right shoulder injury or have her limitations been conclusively revealed?
At the four Grand Slams this year, it's been most unsettling not so much to see Sharapova lose as much as be obliterated -- and do so in increasingly earlier rounds. In the Australian Open final she went down to Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-2. At Roland Garros, Ana Ivanovic pummeled her 6-2, 6-1 in the semis. At Wimbledon, Venus Wiliams whipped the Russian 6-1, 6-3 in the fourth round. At least those were losses to elite players. Then, launching her title defense at the U.S. Open, Sharapova played exceptionally poor tennis, losing 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the third round to 32nd-ranked Agnieszka Radwanksa.

In one sense, it's easy to attribute Sharapova's lackluster Slam results to the right shoulder injury that's severely handicapped her serve. Once one of the best deliveries on tour, Sharapova's serve is the catalyst for her entire game. Power and placement put her immediately in control of the vast majority of her service points -- a particularly critical step for a player whose sporadic court coverage skills make it vital for her to dictate play with exceptional haste. Moreover, when Sharapova holds serve briskly, she's mentally liberated when returning, swings more freely and threatens her opponents.

But this year, backed on her heels by repeated returns, Sharapova's been forced to scramble. Unequipped to mix up paces and spins, scarcely nimble transitioning from defense to offense, Sharapova in her Slam losses has looked exceptionally unmasked.

"Right now she doesn't have the confidence," said Robert Lansdorp, Sharapova's former coach. "I used to always know that Maria would find a way to turn things around. It's completely different now. That girl grew up with me. The game I taught her isn't there."

Through her handlers, Sharapova declined to speak for this article.



Hoping to heal her right shoulder, Sharapova pulled out of this week's event in Stuttgart, Germany. Though on her Web site she says she hopes to play more this year in the lead-up to the season-ending championships, it wouldn't be surprising to see Sharapova cease all competition and work to get herself healthy for 2008.
"Give her a break for this year," said former WTA Tour pro and Tennis Channel analyst Elise Burgin. "This is the first time she's been confronted with significant injuries. She's a smart competitor."

And yet, to witness Sharapova's father and coach, Yuri, watch one of her matches, you'd hardly imagine a long-term vision. Yuri Sharapov is a driven man who treats the ups and downs of each of his daughter's matches as if they were life and death struggles.

But given the long journey this man took from Chernoybl and Siberia to help his daughter (and family), his bunkerlike focus makes a certain kind of sense. After all, it has been only six years since the girl launched her pro career a long spell for a young athlete, but not too much time for an adult.



http://assets.espn.go.com/i/story/design07/dropQuote.gif Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder. http://assets.espn.go.com/i/story/design07/dropQuoteEnd.gif

--Nick Bollettieri



So the schism between Sharapova's long-term ambitions and Yuri's short-term ferocity can create painful tensions. Certainly it hasn't helped in the coaching department, where Yuri's anger was the trigger point for Lansdorp's exit following her loss in the semis of the 2005 U.S. Open. Yet the prominent coach, who had worked with Sharapova from ages 11 to 18, said last week that, "Yuri calls me all the time. I told him to shorten her service motion. I know I can straighten her out in a month -- her head, her serve, her mentality. But now I'd go first, 'Hey listen lady, send me a check.' But I like Maria. I like Yuri, too."
But of late it wasn't Lansdorp who got the call. Instead it was the first notable tennis coach Yuri met when he came to America, Nick Bollettieri. It was at Bollettieri's where the pint-sized Maria lived as a 10-year-old, building her game through endless hours of ball smacking. Reached last week at his academy in Bradenton, Fla., Bollettieri noted that Sharapova was working out on the grounds with Yuri's co-coach, former Lansdorp student Michael Joyce.

Though Bollettieri has no official role in the Sharapova camp, he also knows there's no need for him to be hands-on in the manner of Lansdorp.

"I'm not the coach, no way," Bollettieri said. "But let me tell you this: Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder."

As Sharapova said last month following her U.S. Open loss, "I have a whole future ahead of me. I'm not going to throw myself a pity party here. … You never know when God's going to bring down those gifts. So I'm waiting for those Christmas gifts."

Perhaps one might be a bit less drama from Yuri. His daughter has put in the time to be great. As the world knows, her grunt is grand. Now if he could only let her breathe a little bit more too.

goldenlox
Oct 3rd, 2007, 10:06 PM
Not only Sesil will be thundering.

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/story/design07/dropQuote.gif Over the course of an athlete's life, particularly those that reach a high level of success, perhaps there'll be a slide. But you're going to see Maria coming back with a thunder. http://assets.espn.go.com/i/story/design07/dropQuoteEnd.gif

--Nick Bollettieri

faboozadoo15
Oct 3rd, 2007, 10:30 PM
goldenlox, that's exactly what I was thinking. Two thunderous returns next year, can't wait :haha:

Uranium
Oct 3rd, 2007, 11:05 PM
:yawn:

Donny
Oct 3rd, 2007, 11:11 PM
"Give her a break for this year," said former WTA Tour pro and Tennis Channel analyst Elise Burgin. "This is the first time she's been confronted with significant injuries. She's a smart competitor."

Not really. Instead of taking time off during the clay season, her worst part of the year, she now has to forfeit multiple titles defenses. Had it not been for her RG SF points, when she easily could have lost in the 4th round, she'd already be behind both Serena AND Venus, with Hantuchova very close behind.

Also of note: The reactions to Sharapova's uninsprired season and the reactions to the lackluster years of, say, the WS, is very stark. Go figure.

Andy.
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the article. All athletes go through these hard times. Its the sign of a real champ if you can keep on working hard and get yourself through these hard times to come out stronger in the end.

faboozadoo15
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:18 AM
Not really. Instead of taking time off during the clay season, her worst part of the year, she now has to forfeit multiple titles defenses. Had it not been for her RG SF points, when she easily could have lost in the 4th round, she'd already be behind both Serena AND Venus, with Hantuchova very close behind.

Also of note: The reactions to Sharapova's uninsprired season and the reactions to the lackluster years of, say, the WS, is very stark. Go figure.

Who's to say that just because she played two tournaments on clay that now her problems are worse? It might have been the worse idea for her to play Wimbledon or the US Open hardcourt events. It's impossible to say.

And :spit: to her almost going out in the fourth round of the French. Did you not watch Venus's first 3 matches at Wimbledon and practically ALL of Serena's matches at the Australian Open?

I know it's just KILLING you that Maria was still ahead of both Williams sisters this year until yesterday, but you could really keep your biased bullshit to yourself.

faboozadoo15
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:20 AM
:yawn:

I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.

mankind
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:30 AM
Okay, so Yuri has f*cked up Maria's career, and Maria is a deer stuck in headlights when she's out of her comfort zone. That's all I got out of that article. The rest is just bullshit about God sending her gifts to make her play better tennis. You're going to have to do more than pray, Maria!

Donny
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:36 AM
Who's to say that just because she played two tournaments on clay that now her problems are worse? It might have been the worse idea for her to play Wimbledon or the US Open hardcourt events. It's impossible to say.

She's had the injury for close to a year now. She said she needed time to rest her shoulder, then it would be fine. She took six weeks off, then returned. The injury did not get better. This leads me to the conclusion that she didn't rest long enough. The fact that she's taking time off NOW reinforces that conclusion.

And :spit: to her almost going out in the fourth round of the French. Did you not watch Venus's first 3 matches at Wimbledon and practically ALL of Serena's matches at the Australian Open?

Both Serena and Venus were extremely close to leaving the slams which they eventually won. A large part of it was their skill; a large part of their success was luck; a large part of their success was due to the opponent's shortcomings. I can be a fan of a player and still admit that.

And secondly: Didn't Sharapova face match point at the French? On clay, her worst surface? Versus a clay court specialist. That is, by definition, closer to defeat than either Serena or Venus came at their respective slams. So why exactly did you bring it up?

I know it's just KILLING you that Maria was still ahead of both Williams sisters this year until yesterday, but you could really keep your biased bullshit to yourself.

I'm not a Venus fan. I've said this numerous times before, yet it seems to fall on deaf ears. I'm indifferent, just like I am for the vast majority of players. If I had to make a ranking of players who I enjoy watching play, Venus and Sharapova would both be even to me.

As for Serena? I'm glad she's nearly a lock for the YEC now, but I don't let players whom I've never met negatively affect my emotions... like you seem to do with Sharapova.

Hots4Safin
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:48 AM
Where was all this sympathy when Serena had knee surgery? or when Venus had an abdominal strain?? All I remember hearing then was how the sisters didn't care about tennis and lacked focus. Now it's, "give the girl a break, it's the first time she's encountered lingering injuries." :rolleyes:

goldenlox
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:49 AM
Okay, so Yuri has f*cked up Maria's career, and Maria is a deer stuck in headlights when she's out of her comfort zone. That's all I got out of that article. The rest is just bullshit about God sending her gifts to make her play better tennis. You're going to have to do more than pray, Maria!
I don't think her dad screwed up her career. She has to make her own decisions. About how to schedule and hiring a coach.

Lansdorp criticized her scheduling back in 2005, when she lost 0&0 to Lindsay.
This year, absolutely crazy to play Tokyo if she was injured coming out of Melbourne.
Crazy to play IW if she wasn't 100%
To me, those were more about pleasing sponsors than tennis.

If she's going to tear up that shoulder when it's not healthy, she won't do well.

roger_maria4ever
Oct 4th, 2007, 12:54 AM
I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.
good one:lol:

Hots4Safin
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:00 AM
I'm sure you'd rather read about Venus playing satellites, and there are plenty of threads for that.

Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?

goldenlox
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:01 AM
Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?
You can always toss in a tape of the Wimbledon final. Or YEC final.

Hots4Safin
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:06 AM
You can always toss in a tape of the Wimbledon final. Or YEC final.

I actually really enjoy watching the YEC final where Serena can barely put her arm over head yet still ripped insane winners for 4 games in the third set. Maybe Sharapova should watch that tape and learn how to do that since her shoulder injury is so tragic.

Donny
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:10 AM
You can always toss in a tape of the Wimbledon final. Or YEC final.

Ironic how in a thread about injuries, you'd bring up the YEC final.

Also telling that Serena without a serve actually makes sets competitive.

roger_maria4ever
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:11 AM
Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?
why not? venus too

@Sweet Cleopatra
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:01 AM
Okay, so Yuri has f*cked up Maria's career, and Maria is a deer stuck in headlights when she's out of her comfort zone. That's all I got out of that article. The rest is just bullshit about God sending her gifts to make her play better tennis. You're going to have to do more than pray, Maria!

it's not Yuri , it's canon , nike and all her sponsers .

@Sweet Cleopatra
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:04 AM
I read before that Maria doesn't talk to Robert Lansdrop , do you know the reason ?

homogenius
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:29 AM
I read before that Maria doesn't talk to Robert Lansdrop , do you know the reason ?

He's the cause of Sharapova's technic on forehand.

faboozadoo15
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:40 AM
Perhaps you'd rather see Serena play Maria again?

Sure, bring it on. At least it's interesting, and you know it is too!

Donny
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:47 AM
Sure, bring it on. At least it's interesting, and you know it is too!

The AO final was interesting. The Miami match was boring as hell. One of my least enjoyable Serena matches of the year.

2moretogo
Oct 4th, 2007, 03:47 AM
This article is a bunch of bullshit and I think Maria's fans should be offended... It is one backhanded compliment basically, with some quotes from people doing a service to themselves, the author is basically saying that Maria doesn't have a plan b: with this injury, adding new weapons to her game over her career, or within matches that she should win.

Second, I think this is so unfortunate how single sided the media is.... I don't blame Maria or any of the athletes. It really shows the inherent racial bias by (mostly) the American media to find the next "white" beautiful competitive tennis star. This Maria situation is a trainwreck and the Ana situation has the potential to be the monster disaster of them all. I like Ana but ole girl has made one grand slam/major (edit) final, which she choked, and the media is acting like she is the second coming. It is a damn shame when the best stories this year have been Henin, the Williams sisters' reemergance, Linsday's return.

The most compelling thing about fall has been Venus, Justine, and Serena, and if/when Ana wins YEC then she can join the party. Maria is hurt. Leave her alone. Finally, Nick is a tool, and Lansdorf needs to get over it. Maria has moved on. He sounds like a jilted lover.

Tennisation
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:47 AM
This article is a bunch of bullshit and I think Maria's fans should be offended... It is one backhanded compliment basically, with some quotes from people doing a service to themselves, the author is basically saying that Maria doesn't have a plan b: with this injury, adding new weapons to her game over her career, or within matches that she should win.
How ironic, cuz most of us I'm sure would agree on the fact that she doesn't have a plan B and yes she is using the excuse of shoulder injury to work on sum diff to add to her game, makes a lot of sense to me, and you summed up what the arthur is saying quite well, so how is the arthur bullshitting?:confused:

tennnisfannn
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:55 AM
Maria is having a difficult year and I don't get why peeple keeping harping on her not having a plan B. Every player when going thru diffuclities cannot summon up a miraculous plan B, they probably have it but cannot execute.
Look at Justine at wimby, the one slam she had wanted to complete her career slam, ordinarily she would have found a way to fight back even 1/5 down against bartoli, but on that occassion shh could not. i am sure in her mind she knew what she had to do, she had a plan b but it wasn't working.
Earlier this year we saw Venus blow third set leads against top players, but when she found her confidence every thing fell in place. At the ao her biggest challenge i believe was jelena even more so than justine, but she found it in her, ealy in the year,all she did was toss in df after df. Plan B wasn't working.
For a plan B to work, a player has to be playing generally well by their stds, take away confidence add injury and it is impossible to execute.
Maria by her own stds has not played well, but being in top 8 race is a sure testament to how well she has played overall, things could be better of course.
maria fans have to be patient, maria will eventually be fully fit. That's what i would say to myself every time i saw venus struggle.

KennyChante4ever
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:15 PM
Interesting article and I'm glad they mentioned the Radwanska match because Maria gift wrapped that one in the 3rd set. I'm not counting her out because she's a two-time Grand Slam champion so she knows how to win. This is her first real experience of having a slump since she won Wimbledon. She'll learn from this. As for Yuri? :tape:

roger_maria4ever
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:26 PM
maria seems to be working hard and not getting distracted as I haven't heard a single news about her from her official web site since more than a week..

zayos_10
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:17 PM
Maria is having a difficult year and I don't get why peeple keeping harping on her not having a plan B. Every player when going thru diffuclities cannot summon up a miraculous plan B, they probably have it but cannot execute.
Look at Justine at wimby, the one slam she had wanted to complete her career slam, ordinarily she would have found a way to fight back even 1/5 down against bartoli, but on that occassion shh could not. i am sure in her mind she knew what she had to do, she had a plan b but it wasn't working.
Earlier this year we saw Venus blow third set leads against top players, but when she found her confidence every thing fell in place. At the ao her biggest challenge i believe was jelena even more so than justine, but she found it in her, ealy in the year,all she did was toss in df after df. Plan B wasn't working.
For a plan B to work, a player has to be playing generally well by their stds, take away confidence add injury and it is impossible to execute.
Maria by her own stds has not played well, but being in top 8 race is a sure testament to how well she has played overall, things could be better of course.
maria fans have to be patient, maria will eventually be fully fit. That's what i would say to myself every time i saw venus struggle.

Great post!:worship: Hopefully she will be fit again...

goldlion
Oct 5th, 2007, 03:06 AM
In fact, I don't really understand the why people expect every player needs a Plan B.

Take Maria. If her game plan failed, what do you want her to change?

Her service motion? To be single-handed backhand?

Will you consider changing from offensive game plan to defensive as Plan B ?

You all know, the tennis game now needs to be offensive and playing defensively won't win.

Can it, indirectly, explain why Martina cannot deal with that with young girls now?

Maria just needs to raise her accuracy in her ground strokes and service motion.

With height like hers, there must be lots of advantages and perhaps she should find someone help her figure them out.

I think the most urgent thing that Maria has to think about it " Is it the right time to change the coach? "

Like she said, she's having at least 5 more years ahead. She needs to improve herself.

But the prime thing is, Yuri must let Maria go at last, considering she's gifted.

alfonsojose
Oct 5th, 2007, 04:58 PM
He's the cause of Sharapova's technic on forehand.

The guy coached Lindsay too :shrug: However, i agree the forehand technique is disgusting :scared:

Yonexforever
Oct 5th, 2007, 05:59 PM
I actually really enjoy watching the YEC final where Serena can barely put her arm over head yet still ripped insane winners for 4 games in the third set. Maybe Sharapova should watch that tape and learn how to do that since her shoulder injury is so tragic.
:worship: :worship:

FINALLY!!
Someone with some perspective... i thought I was the only one who rememebered Serena was visibly hobbled for that YEC against Maria, but still was clubbing balls she got her racket on.
I have all the sympathy for Maria as she struggles with her shoulder but lets be fair across the board.

Yonexforever
Oct 5th, 2007, 06:05 PM
Second, I think this is so unfortunate how single sided the media is.... I don't blame Maria or any of the athletes. It really shows the inherent racial bias by (mostly) the American media to find the next "white" beautiful competitive tennis star. This Maria situation is a trainwreck and the Ana situation has the potential to be the monster disaster of them all. I like Ana but ole girl has made one grand slam/major (edit) final, which she choked, and the media is acting like she is the second coming. It is a damn shame when the best stories this year have been Henin, the Williams sisters' reemergance, Linsday's return.

The most compelling thing about fall has been Venus, Justine, and Serena, and if/when Ana wins YEC then she can join the party. Maria is hurt. Leave her alone. Finally, Nick is a tool, and Lansdorf needs to get over it. Maria has moved on. He sounds like a jilted lover.[/QUOTE]


Nuff said!
:worship: