Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Maria has to be mentally tough, because when her game is off, she really doesn't have anywhere to go. Her serve is too inconsistent, her defense isn't great, she doesn't have any real feel to be effective at net and her footwork is too flaky for her to protect herself when she's making too many errors. Maria's game is all or nothing, and when it's nothing her game is very one-dimensional and rigid.
But, she can keep herself calm, she takes it one point at a time, she wills herself to play better and has enough patience in her game that she believes it will come good before it's too late. Her losses this year have either come against players who were better on the day (like a Lisicki at Wimbledon for example) or players who are better overall than her, such as Serena.
Serena doesn't need to be as mentally tough in this sense, because she's a better player overall and she can be protected by her serve and good movement if her game is off. Her problem is when she gets rattled. When that happens, she does go into meltdown, such as at the French Open, or in the US Open in 2011. I think as well, being past 30 now and after everything she's been through, she also understands just how big slam finals and matches are. She knows she could break records, and she puts a lot of pressure on herself because she knows time is running out. An example of that was the second set of the US Open final, when she went to playing well, to playing poorly, in a matter of points, for no apparent reason. I believe the reasons for this was she knew she was in a position to beat those demons from the previous two US Open's and because she realised "oh my god, I could win grand slam #15", and began to feel the pressure of it.
But she only gets rattled on very rare occasions, and that's because she's in control of at least 95% of her matches, due to her strengths being so overwhelming. And even if she does gets rattled like example in the second set of the Wimbledon final, she can get herself back together if you give her enough time to do so.