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DevilishAttitude Nov 12th, 2012 07:45 PM

Strengths and weaknesses of Top 10
2012 was perhaps the best year of the WTA for quite some time and I thought it would be good to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Top 10. Do these players have subtle strengths which make them the best or do they have less weaknesses than those below them?

Here's my thoughts:

#1 Victoria Azarenka
- Currently the best returner in the game, always looks to be aggressive and probably is at her most dangerous when her returns are working.
- Excellent neturaliser of the point. She may not hit a huge amount of winners but is excellent at controlling the point with a series of well-timed, clean, flatly hit shots before eventually finding an opening to attack.
- Shots very rarely break down and gets excellent depth, which means it's harder to attack as she can push players back.

- Serve is ineffective for a #1. Generates little pace off it and it is to start the point more than anything else. Second serve can also break down and will throw multiple DF's if it's completely off.
- Doesn't move that well to her FH side, although she has improved that in recent months.
- If hard-hitters are at their best then they can hit through her defense, and she doesn't have the weaponary to match them. If the match isn't on her terms then she's in trouble.

#2 Maria Sharapova
- Probably the strongest mentally out of all the players. Her mental stamina and endurance allow her to win matches even if she's playing badly, as it allows her to keep in control and her opponents won't be able to keep their levels above hers.
- Big hitter and when on can hit through anyone.
- First and second serves are always aggressive and when working allow her to be aggressive straight away and put pressure on opponents.

- When serve is off it will break down with alarming results. Throws in too many DF's.
- Inconsistency off the ground mean she can get dragged into marathons when she really should be winning easily. If Plan A isn't working she has nothing else to go to.
- Lack of general feel means if she's rushed she has no option but to play low percentage tennis, with little success. Both Azarenka and Williams expose this time and time again against her.

#3 Serena Williams
- Her serve is currently THE shot on the WTA. It can carry her through matches when her ground game is AWOL, as she can simply serve her way through opponents.
- One of the very few players whose defense is as good as her offense. Means she can be almost unplayable when her game is on.
- Believes she's the number 1 at all times and can have won matches even before a ball has been hit, simply due to the fact players don't believe they can beat her.

- Can be very up and down mentally. If things aren't going her way then she can go into complete meltdown. Opponents can get inside her head and cause her to doubt her ability.
- Footwork can be lazy and mean her ground-game can look extremely awkward and messy if she's not moving well.
- Motivation can be questionable in minor matches.

#4 Agnieszka Radwanska
- One of the very few players who can say they are an all-court player. Excellent touch and feel means if she gets matches on her terms that she can spin a web against opponents.
- Excellent movement and anticipation skills mean she can get a huge number of balls back and force her opponents to go for too much and make too many errors.
- Can rely on more than just a Plan A if things aren't going her way and stays solid mentally the vast majority of the time.

- Doesn't generate any real pace which means she struggles to hit through opponents.
- Second serve is one of the worst shots in the Top 10.
- If players are playing their best she can struggle to make any real impact as doesn't have the weapons to counter-act them.

#5 Angelique Kerber
- One of the best on tour at turning defense into offense. Is aggressive in defense which allows her to at times turn a rally onto her terms with just one shot. Can make her opponents feel that they can't hit through her.
- To back up last point, she's also one of the best movers around.
- Can hit winners off both sides despite being smaller than the average player.

- If opponents don't give her any pace, she finds it very difficult to make her own, and doesn't have the required patience if her matches turn into wars of attrition.
- Serve isn't a weapon and second serve can be attacked.
- Can check out of matches if things aren't going her way.

#6 Sara Errani
- One of the very few players these days who understand how to play on clay. Spin she generates on FH means she can make her matches very physical despite being smaller and lighter than most of her opponents.
- Excellent touch and feel, drop shots are some of the best on tour.
- Moves well.

- Next to no serve which means both first and second serve can be attacked with ease.
- Doesn't have any answers if hard-hitters are playing well as she doesn't have the weapons to counter-act with.
- Needs a slow court for her game to be effective.

#7 Li Na
- Probably the best player currently at being able to change direction aggressively. Also one of the few players who can combine power with width, which means her ball is always going away from the opponent.
- Her power can allow her to hit through majority of opponents.
- Moves well and is an athletic player.

- Very inconsistent. Can throw away matches by simply being unable to get the ball in court and another player who if Plan A isn't working as nothing to fall back on.
- Weak mentally which means she can lose concentration and spend her time shouting at her husband rather than focusing on the match.
- Poor returner.

#8 Petra Kvitova
- The biggest hitter on tour currently. If her ground game is on then she can be almost unplayable.
- One of the very few players who can mix power with variety. Slice and volleys when working mean she has a dimension to her game that most of the opponents don't have.
- Very difficult to stop when she's on a roll.

- Never looks in the best shape, which mean her movement, which isn't the strongest part of her game anyway, is compromised further.
- When game is off she is another player who looks as if she has more chance of hitting the stands than hitting the court.
- Needs conditions to be in her favour for her to play her best, as she struggles physically in hot, humid and slow conditions.

#9 Samantha Stosur
- Her game is about massive topspin, rather than power, which means she can be a very difficult proposition for her opponents who have to face a style that is rare on the WTA.
- Kick serve is the best on the WTA and again gives her opponents a look at something that they just aren't used to.
- Defensive BH slice is good and BH down-the-line when working can be dangerous.

- BH might be dangerous when working but most of the time it is one of the weakest shots in the Top 10. Can be attacked and will breakdown the vast majority of the time.
- Will shank and mishit her FH if her timing is off.
- Against the tall big-hitters, her serve moves from being a huge weapon to liability, as she rarely does anything with it other than kick it up, which goes to their strike-zone.

#10 Caroline Wozniacki
- One of the most consistent players out there and defensive skills allow her to get balls back that most others wouldn't be able to get too.
- In superb physical condition, she wins the vast majority of attritional matches as she can grind her opponents down physically.
- Solid mentally.

- Doesn't generate enough power overall and means she struggles to hit through opponents. It also means she has nowhere to go if hard-hitters are playing well, they can simply hit through her as her ball doesn't really go anywhere.
- FH is ineffective and will break down if pressured.
- Next to no feel in her game.

Thoughts? :)

bandabou Nov 12th, 2012 08:09 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Sharapova the toughest mentally?! :confused:

gbenga Nov 12th, 2012 08:20 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Originally Posted by DevilishAttitude (Post 22469472)

#3 Serena Williams

- Can be very up and down mentally. If things aren't going her way then she can go into complete meltdown. Opponents can get inside her head and cause her to doubt her ability.

This narrative is wrong. In 2012, Serena is 58-4. Of her 4 losses only one was due to mental break down.

MrProdigy555 Nov 12th, 2012 08:37 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Yeah, opponents don't mentally affect Serena. o.O

Joe. Nov 12th, 2012 09:00 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Originally Posted by gbenga (Post 22469703)
This narrative is wrong. In 2012, Serena is 58-4. Of her 4 losses only one was due to mental break down.

I would say that her 3 losses to Makarova, Wozniacki and Razzano were all due to either mentality/motivation issues...

Stonerpova Nov 12th, 2012 09:09 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Victoria Azarenka
-The exceptional depth on her groundstrokes and her ability to create angles allows her to neutralize her opponents’ power until she can get a short ball to pounce on.
-Anticipates extremely well
-Terrific and consistent returner of serve
-Weak serve
-She doesn’t have the weaponry of some of her contemporaries, and she can be hit off the court by a power player on their game
-Forehand can break down

Maria Sharapova
-Hits the ball huge and with relentless precision
-When she connects on her returns, look out
-Fights like hell to the very last point
-Serena Williams
-Can be a bit predictable off the serve
-Can’t volley to save her life

Serena Williams
-Greatest serve in women’s tennis history
-Hits huge off the ground, moves extremely well, terrific volleyer, can play defense, great returner of serve
-When she’s on, she’s essentially unplayable
-Can put too much pressure on herself
-Can be a bit of a slow starter
-Her footwork can go off at times

Aggie Radwanska
-The rare WTA player that possesses some variety
-She’s a terrific defensive player
-Can go games without missing
-Poor second serve
-She struggles when she has to generate her own pace
-Her groundstrokes sit up on slower courts, giving her opponents time to tee off

Angelique Kerber
-Extremely fit and a terrific mover
-Can produce some incredible shots on the run
-Terrific competitor
-Also struggles to create her own pace
-Her serve could use some work
-Despite her competitive strengths she has gone away in some big matches

Sara Errani
-Like Kerber, she’s extremely fit and has clearly put in the hard yards off the court
-Competes so well
-She’s extremely consistent off the ground and has great depth
-Lacks power
-Faster courts dull her heavy topspin
-Serve is crap

Li Na
-When she’s on her game she has every shot in the book
-Has a lot of width on her groundstrokes
-Moves extremely well
-Maddeningly inconsistent, both mentally and in her tennis
-Seems to get too satisfied by a good run
-No plan B

Petra Kvitova
-On her day she can hit literally anyone off the court (save Serena)
-Has a great deal of variety
-She is a very naturally gifted ball-striker and hits the ball great on the run
-Streaky in basically every department of her game
-Very uneven mentally

Samantha Stosur
-The serve and forehand combo can be menacing
-She’s not the great volleyer the media makes her out to be but she’s still pretty good in that department
-Extremely fit
-Doesn’t have that explosive first step
-Falters in pressure situations
-Backhand can be a mess

Caroline Wozniacki
-Extremely consistent off the ground, can basically rally players to death
-Excellent backhand
-Mental stamina
-Her father
-Her forehand
-Her serve has deteriorated

lenas warriors Nov 12th, 2012 09:20 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Great list. Very reasoned. Weaknesses of stosur and laborz had me in hysterics- bluntly put and are glaring when laid out like that!

Someone should do an 11-20 list :)

Geekking Nov 12th, 2012 09:46 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Sam Stosur:

Weakness: She needs bouncing courts!

lenas warriors Nov 12th, 2012 09:51 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
1. Vika
+ deep groundstrokes
+ standing on the baseline taking the early ball (taking time away from her opponents)
+ excellent returns
+ been very mentally tough hanging in matches
- serve (was fine til indian wells but has been ropey since shoulder problems during the clay swing)
- running to her forehand
- clay

2. Maria
+ her returns
+ laser groundstrokes
+ her serve to the deuce side
+ resilience and mental toughness (against all bar a few)
- her serve to the ad side
- is prone to making a batch of UFE
- volleys

3. Serena
+ her serve
+ great defense and attach
+ returns
+ movement
- forehand can breakdown though has been tighter in 2012
- lazy footwork at times
- doesnt always play great against scrubs

4. Aga
+ great tennis mind
+ has lots of shots at her disposal
+ great defense
+ great movement
- still a bit powderpuff so is prone to being hit off the court/matches arent always in her hands
- Czechs
- second serve :help:

5. Angie
+ great defense and ability to turn defense into attack
+ great movement
+ has the game to challenge the big hitters
- serve
- mental checkouts
- doesnt have the best game to challenge the softer hitters

6. Errani
+ had a great off season preparing her body
+ had a great off season preparing her grunting
+ strategy
- serve
- groundstrokes
- being hit off court by players on their game

7. Li
+ groundstrokes
+ athleticism
+ serve can be great
- netplay :help:
- mental checkouts
- serve can be ropey

8. Petra
+ At her best i think can she beat anyone
+ great groundstrokes
+ good variety
- needs better fitness and prepare her body for the grind
- not always great matchplay (e.g. losing the big points)
- movement

9. Sammy
+ Forehand
+ Serve
+ has a nice collection of short tennis playing bitches/punchbags
- netplay :help:
- being tough on herself
- shanking the ball
- backhand
- doesnt have a plan B
- is collected by a number of flat hitting bitches as a punchbag

10. Caro
+ vulturing
+ her backhand
+ making players hit one more ball
- her dad
- her forehand
- her serve
- her netplay :help:

Cajka Nov 12th, 2012 09:54 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
OP and Griffin both made great lists, I'd like to add few things.

1. I don't think that Serena lets opponents get inside her head, my impression is that sometimes some bad misses get inside her head (rather than opponents) which was mostly visible in the first part of the season when she simply couldn't win ugly.

2. I don't think that Sharapova is the strongest mentally, Vika and Serena are stronger mentally.

3. Errani's return and mental fortitude are seriously underrated. I'd like to add it to list of her strengths.

4. Azarenka has a great touch, good volleys and drop shots.

Stonerpova Nov 12th, 2012 11:04 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Oh and add "unrelenting will to win" to my list of Serena's strengths :lol:

Coconut91 Nov 12th, 2012 11:27 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Originally Posted by lenas warriors (Post 22470140)

7. Li
+ groundstrokes
+ athleticism
+ serve can be great
- netplay :help:
- mental checkouts
- serve can be ropey

Good you mention Na's serve. I feel it's always overlooked. Of course it's inconsistent, but her whole game is, so. :lol:

- Petra's serve deserves some credit. It's definitely one of her assets. Her return of serve can be awful though, hence the poor break point conversions.

- Vika is underrated in the touch department IMO. It's a pity she doesn't always use her tools, because it's a joy to wath when she does. Serve is clearly the main drawback on her game.

- About Radwanska, I just want to say that I love it when she goes to the net, successful or not. Pity she doesn't have better approach shots. Her movement is great too, not the fastest or most explosive mover, but a very smart and efficient one.

dsanders06 Nov 12th, 2012 11:30 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Strengths in Green, Negatives in Red

-This will sound weird, but I actually think the biggest key to her success is great "wrist-work" -- she is able to flick back ANY shots no matter how hard you hit them if they're within her reach (which isn't something you can say about Wozniacki, despite being a better defender than Aza overall), and for the same reason is also effortlessly able to redirect balls despite her lack of firepower.
-Excellent footwork and instincts of how to position herself and when to move forward, etc.
-Excellent focus, mental strength and poise under pressure

-Can be rather impotent against big hitters who are willing to use the full width of the court (e.g. Serena, Maria when she plays a good match, Li when not in brainfart mode), as her raw footspeed is not good enough to defend like crazy (a la Wozniacki/Radwanska) if she's being run side to side from one corner to the other, nor does she get chances to play offense against these players
-Serve, obviously

-Best backhand on the WTA
-Weight of shot (though not necessarily raw pace of shot)
-Fighting spirit

-Despite being quicker sprinting from A to B than she's given credit for, she is still very bad at changing directions, meaning she remains a poor defensive player by the standards of the top 10.
-Footwork can at times be iffy, which is more fatal for her than other ballbashers because she doesn't have the kind of natural timing or raw pace that she can get away with it if she's not in exactly the right position
-Post-surgery, can be flakey in pressure situations.

-Serve, serve, serve
-Excellent at creating angles and opening up the court with her forehand
-Mental strength, obvs

-Footwork can be comically awful at times, including in virtually every match on red clay since 2003
-Backhand, despite being her stronger wing at her peak, has been strangely going downhill in recent years, both in terms of potency and reliability

-Excellent anticipation
-Mixes up the placement of her defensive shots well, which can expose her opponents if their reaction times or footwork are off
-Occasionally capable of dictating play (to some extent) with her forehand by taking it on the rise

-Very poor weight of shot means she can often groove her opponent, even if they started the match out of form
-Poor upper-body strength makes her oddly inept at dealing with topspin.

-Probably the best raw footspeed of anyone in the top 20 atm
-Forehand is very hard to read with it's super-snappy takeback
-Excellent competitor

-Technically-flawed groundstrokes mean she's generally incapable of being the aggressor in matches without collapsing in a mound of unforced errors

-Excellent point construction
-Best net-player in the top 20
-Very good competitor

-Even though her will is never lacking, any top 30 big-hitter can take the match out of her hands, seeing as she needs lots of time for her offensive game to be effective, and she is not one of the top defensive players (away from clay atleast) either

-Excellent raw footspeed
-Good at absorbing and redirecting pace and, as others have said, uses the width of the court very well
-Backhand is very effective finishing shot, despite not being heavy she hits it clean as a whistle and generally gets great length on it, as well as being reasonably reliable

-Her potentially great defensive abilities are unrealised due to her often poor footwork and court sense
-Forehand is a technically poor shot - OK-ish as a defensive shot, but technically incapable of holding up if she's trying to play out-and-out first-strike tennis with it, unless she puts GOBS of topspin on it (thus limiting the potency of said first strike)

-Forehand among the most explosive shots in the history of the women's game
-Serve; even when she throws in a high-% first serve, it's still usually very effective due to the lefty spin, which makes it perhaps the most reliable serve at crunch times other than Serena's
-Contrary to popular belief, is comfortable in the spotlight and generally steps it up in big matches (as shown by how much stronger her Slam results were this year than her WTA results).

-Footwork very cumbersome
-Return, while deadly on the rare occasions she connects, misfires more often than not -- whether this is because of bad footwork or because she lacks the fundamental athletic dexterity to be a good returner, I don't know

MrProdigy555 Nov 13th, 2012 07:14 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Originally Posted by Joe. (Post 22469883)
I would say that her 3 losses to Makarova, Wozniacki and Razzano were all due to either mentality/motivation issues...

Makarova- Was "tree-ing" and Serena was incapable of playing the style of tennis she's accustomed to (because of the foot injury).

Wozniacki-Serena expected her to be a scrub, but Wozniacki actually showed up and it surprised Serena. Not a mental breakdown.


Razzanno-Mental collapse.

*and in this day and age I don't think Serena struggles with motivation. She has records she's chasing and I believe she wants to win...everything. :shrug:

Mary Cherry. Nov 13th, 2012 07:19 PM

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10

Weakness: Often bends over for her superiors in finals.
Strength: Often bends over for her superiors in finals.

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