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View Full Version : Sudden Drops in Productivity


Volcana
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:35 PM
Hantuchova and Dokic come to mind, but Shaughnessy's been there, Capriati and Demetieva too. Even Serena. Look at 2001.

What causes this? 'Beginner's luck wearing off' is too siple an explanation. I think, at least in some cases, it's a matter of being 'figured out'. The huge example hear is Hingis. Once the 'formula' was discovered for beating her, everyone played her the same way. pin her on the baseline and pace her to death. Most players weren't good enough to do it, but they all tried, knowing it was the only way to beat her.

In the more general case though, I think this happens to players who's games are stubbornly based on athletic ability. Look at Serena in 2001. She'd already won the US Open, was capable of beating anyone, and she lost in the QF's at every major. This was nearing the end of her 'Wild Thing' phase. But 'Wild Thing' was strictly about speed, power, and going for the lines. When the other players started throwing junk at her, she couldn't cope and her results slipped. There wasn't an athletic answer to her problems. She had to change how she played. Now she uses topspin on her forehand, instead of hitting it flat (and into the net half the time). [i]Slice{/i] is actually employed. (Once or twice a match).

I think this may be some of what's happening to Dani and Jelena. Both of their games are nased on athletic ability. Run the ball down, hit the ball hard. Well, in the past five years, the tour got LOADS of practice against variations of that style. Serena, Venus, Lindsay, Jenn, Monica, Justine, Mary Pierce, Amelie Mauresmo, etc.

Once the tour had some time to figure the nuances of Dani and jelena's particualr games, it stands to reason that the tour as a whole would find more success against them. But look at that list opf players again. Serena, Venus, Lindsay, Jenn, Monica, Justine, Mary Pierce, Amelie Mauresmo. Except MAYBE for Mary Pierce, all those players moved on from simple 'run it down, hit it hard' tennis. Some of the changes are small, like adding a little topspin to Serena's forehand. Some are huge, like Amelie retooling her whole game. Lindsay Davenport lost weight, and started moving in and finsihing points from the mid-court, instead of the baseline.

It might even be as simple as coming onto court with a strategy and prepared tactics for carrying out that strategy.

sartrista7
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:41 PM
Once the tour had some time to figure the nuances of Dani and jelena's particualr games, it stands to reason that the tour as a whole would find more success against them. But look at that list opf players again. Serena, Venus, Lindsay, Jenn, Monica, Justine, Mary Pierce, Amelie Mauresmo. Except MAYBE for Mary Pierce, all those players moved on from simple 'run it down, hit it hard' tennis. Some of the changes are small, like adding a little topspin to Serena's forehand. Some are huge, like Amelie retooling her whole game. Lindsay Davenport lost weight, and started moving in and finsihing points from the mid-court, instead of the baseline.

Good analysis, though I wouldn't say that Capriati has moved on much from the basic Big Babe Tennis template either (and it shows in her results vs the top players). Pierce, on the other hand - if she plays at 100% (and this happens once every few years), she doesn't need to play any other way, as no one can live with her. (I don't think she'll ever reach that level again, though, good as she seems to be playing nowadays.)

Daniela has the tools to retool her game enough to contend in the top 5. I don't think Jelena does.

Volcana
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:45 PM
Daniela has the tools to retool her game enough to contend in the top 5. I don't think Jelena does.

I think they both have the tools. I think Dani has the WILL. I'm not so sure about Jelena.

sartrista7
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:49 PM
To put it less politely, I don't think Jelena has the brain to introduce any nuances at all into her game.

Kim Clijsters is another example: she wasn't always this defensive, and her superlative defence is exactly what she added to her game.