View Full Version : The Kournikova mind

Feb 20th, 2002, 02:13 AM
I just wrote this sentence about Anna in another thread.

"She's athletic enough, but I can't name one mental or emotional trait Anna has that's an advantage for a tennis player during a match.

I wondered if it was fair.

Anna is reputed to have a great work ethic, but that doesn't help you during the match, per se, not like being good at strategy, or having superior focus, or being good at tricking people. Anna's mental game seems to begin and end with 'run them for corner to corner if you can'. Other than that, she simply reacts to whatever the other player is doing.

Anna's one of the ten best athletes on the tour. But it seems to me that she has turned into the player I (secretly) feared Venus Williams might be. All physical, no mental. Worse, she doesn't act like she understands there IS a mental side she hasn't yet mastered. And she's never going to win the GS title she's athlete enough to win if she doesn't get focus/intellect/pressure side of the equation down.

Feb 20th, 2002, 03:11 AM
lucky for Anna she has Marti to help her win some titles

Feb 20th, 2002, 03:18 AM
I agree with you Volcana! Anna too often doesn't think her way around the tennis court, and in my opinion that's what has held her back the most. It's either that she's trying to outhit her opponent or playing her opponent's game; rarely will she use a strategy of her own. She has all the shots, and is a great mover, so she can definitely use some strategy on the court and figure out ways to win, but like Volcana said, she doesn't seem to understand that there is a mental side to the game that she can improve on.
I also thought that Venus might be just a power player with no exceptional mental strength. And, for the first couple of years, that's basically what she was, all power. But, as soon as she became stronger mentally, the big results started to come. I think that if Anna can develop into a stronger mental player, the results will start coming for her too.

Feb 20th, 2002, 04:14 AM
Originally posted by silvercharm
lucky for Anna she has Marti to help her win some titles

silver, i know you didn't mean this in a bad way but it came off to me as that. to insinuate that anna can't win titles other than to have hingis as her partner isn't fair. sorry, im touchy today http://www.freakygamers.com/smilies/s2/kao/chika/chirolp_um.gif...but i get ya...martina has helped anna...im probably looking into your post too much....

as for volcana's quote

"She's athletic enough, but I can't name one mental or emotional trait Anna has that's an advantage for a tennis player during a match.

i don't see anything wrong in saying it. it is your opinion afterall. and anna's weakness Is her mental game...and when she improves it, the titles will start coming...

Dawn Marie
Feb 20th, 2002, 05:02 AM
Mitch I didn't think that at all about Venus because It was so obvious that Venus always worked on what she needed to improve on. Venus each year that she was on the tour has steadily been working on her problem areas. Her serve,her placement, her net game and her MENATL focus. Now with Anna I don't see that kind of improvement in her game and especially her MENTAL game.:)

Feb 20th, 2002, 06:51 AM
DawnMarie, you're right that Venus was always working on some aspect of her game that needed improvement...her serve, her net play...but I think (and of course I'm no expert ;) ) that her game really went to another level once she improved her mental game. Anyways, whatever she did, it seems to have worked so far ;)

Feb 20th, 2002, 07:30 AM
in complete diametrical contrast to her singles play, in doubles anna oozes confindence, calm, mentally strong and is one of the more tactically aware doubles players going around (second only to martina IMO).

this happens regardless whether she plays with martina or not.

i think her willingness to fight however is one trait that is an advantage. however sometimes this fight is simply consumed by the other deficiencies.

daNieLa iS cUtE
Feb 20th, 2002, 08:19 AM
I don't claim to be an expert in sports psychology, but for what it's worth, I think Kournikova should focus on tennis 100%. I'm not sure if the signature on one of the posters is really what she said: "...we're superstars!". If that is the case then it's not even reached the point where the mental side of the game is, it's an attitude that she needs to kick. If she WANTS to be a TOP tennis player. Gather up, leave EVERYTHING ELSE aside for a little while, and really focus on working her game up a few notches.

I also read that she doesn't have a coach. Please excuse my ignorance, can't seem to remember everything that's been posted. Anyways, if she doesn't, then that's one aspect she needs to sort out.

my 2pence's worth...

Feb 20th, 2002, 11:42 AM
Mental toughness isn't actually Anna's big problem. I've seen her come back from behind in plenty of matches. She is a real fighter on court.

Her problem is lack of court sense & strategy. She just doesn't seem to be able to construct a point properly which is bizarre considering her phenomenal doubles record.

Feb 20th, 2002, 11:48 AM
Saki, you need to add: ... on the big points

Anna can construct points beautifully, and can - does - have great court awareness; of where the spaces are and what she's going to do with the ball.

She can - for periods - actually dominate play against the best in the world.

What it comes down to (and I'm not offering reasons or explanations, just statement of what I've seen), she is soo fallible on the big points.

Feb 20th, 2002, 01:56 PM
She's mentally tough in that she can come from behind to win a match - the amount of times I've seen the girl come back from 0-40 down in a game to win it is incredible - but that she can never sustain brilliant play while she's ahead. When she's 2-5 down in a set, she's very capable of still winning it; when she's 5-2 up, she's very capable of losing it from there.

I agree with saki and thefreedesigner about her court awareness. She has very natural, instinctive reactions and placement; when it gets to a big point, she starts thinking about it and tightens up.

Feb 20th, 2002, 02:04 PM
The talent is there; the mind is not. Anna simply lacks confidence. You'd think with all her fame and money that she would be a little cocky on court but she is more apt to cower than to really fight to the very end. I respect Mary Pierce that much more because she doesn't have many of Anna's gifts but she has risen to the occasion several times in her erratic career. At almost 21, Anna hasn't even done that.

Feb 20th, 2002, 02:11 PM
and of course at 21, shes just about past it

Feb 20th, 2002, 02:19 PM
Well, Anna is just a girl (not yet a woman)!!, just like everyone else.

Hope she can lift it up!!!



Feb 20th, 2002, 02:29 PM
Oh, my bad. She's pushing 22 then? That's even worse. :rolleyes:

Williams Rulez
Feb 20th, 2002, 02:35 PM
I think Anna needs a little genius from Martina ;)

That kind of genius that lets you instinctively know where to put the ball and all. I think Anna has too little court sense and she doesn't know what to do with the ball... sometimes. I think if she got a better coach, this problem can be solved as the coach can work on the tactical aspect of her game.

Anna certainly has most shots in the book, it is just a matter of using them at the right time. She needs a coach for that.

Nan Cu
Feb 20th, 2002, 02:55 PM
Anna is 20.

Feb 20th, 2002, 03:35 PM
Well... Venus has once again put something else on Anna's mind.

Feb 20th, 2002, 03:57 PM
Oh my bad again. 20. Well, there's still some hope. I guess. :rolleyes: Sorry for the cynicism but AK just frustrates the hell out of me.

Feb 20th, 2002, 05:55 PM
I agree!

She need a real coach!! Not just her mother!!!!


Feb 20th, 2002, 06:27 PM
Anna is by no means a stupid girl. Spoiled maybe. Stupid, no. She needs to REALIZE she has a lot to learn on the mental side of tennis. I think she looks at her groundstrokes, her serve, her volleys and justifiably feels she does those things as well as top ten players. And she does. It's the between-the-ears stuff she seems to feel is unimportant.

Feb 20th, 2002, 06:39 PM
I agree with Volcana. Anna has all the elements to be a top player.. but she needs a REAL COACH, not her parents! They have brought her very far..but I really believe she needs the input of someone else to bring her back to the top ten. Unwittingly, her parents are hurting her tennis by encouraging her to do all the endorsements! She is not focussed on the game, she is focussed on making money and those are two very different goals.

Please know I am NOT bashing Anna. I love to watch her play -- she has a fluid and beautiful game. But she needs to make a change QUICK or she'll be playing in the satellites!

Feb 20th, 2002, 06:52 PM
Anna is by no means a stupid girl. Spoiled maybe. Stupid, no. She needs to REALIZE she has a lot to learn on the mental side of tennis. I think she looks at her groundstrokes, her serve, her volleys and justifiably feels she does those things as well as top ten players. And she does. It's the between-the-ears stuff she seems to feel is unimportant.

EXACTLY!!! This is what some of those people who whine about others are "jealous" of Anna for criticizing don't understand. She needs to DUMP her handlers and take responsibility of her own career... (Take a page from Michele Kwan's book already) It is a shame she continues to do things that distract from attention to her tennis.

Feb 20th, 2002, 07:08 PM
I love Anna's game and recognize her talent but it's her lack of self-motivation that irks me. She's another in a long line of prodigies that haven't lived up to expectations. Well, at least she's set for life financially; most of us can't say that.

Feb 21st, 2002, 05:42 AM
I have to disagree with the statement that Anna lacks self-motivation. Almost everyone who follows tennis has heard other players such as Monica comment that Anna is one of the hardest working players on tour. I believe Monica said something to the effect of "Anna is always the first one on the court for practice and the last to leave." (That is not a direct quote, but I believe what Monica said was very similar.) Someone who works this hard must have a very high amount of self-motivation. If they did not, they simply would not go out there and work as hard as Anna does. Anna definitely does need to realize that some things need to be worked on, however, I do not believe her motivation is one of them.

I believe Volcana's last post is the perfect way to sum Anna up. Anyone who has seen a press conference or interview with Anna would quickly realize, as Volcana pointed out, that Anna is not stupid at all. In fact, she actually comes across, at least in my opinion, as being quite intelligent. I believe she just does not see a problem at this point, and if she does, she doesn't know how to go about fixing it. Skills wise she can do everything the best in the world can, but there is a problem in her head. I only hope she finds a way to fix it soon and become the player she has the talent to be.

Feb 21st, 2002, 02:32 PM
No offense to anyone but I think what we have here is tennis fans wanting a player's success more than then player does herself. It's just like with actors-- I'd love to see Heather Graham show some guts and take a meaty role but like Anna, she's content to work steadily in safe fare and coast, shining occasionally. All the best to Anna!