Originally Posted by quentinak
Oops I realize I wasn't clear. I quoted you because I agreed with you and felt your posts have actual constructive content regarding this match.
I think Sharapova wasn't able to fire away in big part because Li was moving the ball (hence moving Maria) around the court very well with good depth of shot that had margin, unlike Li's usual style in previous years. The new confidence is a key factor. It's easier to feel confident when Li has the mentality (seems to me) that she doesn't have to bash every ball away perfectly for a winner AND to know what she needs to do even if she misses a few shots. In the first game or two, she missed a couple of loopy shots and she show frustration because those were supposed to be safe shots that don't miss. But she stuck to the plan, put so much consistent pressure on Maria that Maria felt she needed to play perfect shots to win points. That's why Maria "looked bad" I think.
But yes, only time will tell for certain though.
Yeah I agree with most of what you said, although I think a lot of Maria's movement had to do with being so mentally flat. I haven't seen her move that slow since 2010/2011 and all the serves out wide on the deuce she was returning handily throughout the tournament. Just completely flat, no fist pumps or shouting come on.
It definitely has worked wonders for Li's mentality by putting more work on the ball, she doesn't look in danger of imploding and didn't even today, although it's early days in the season yet. I just hope she doesn't respond like she did in 2011.
And to questions about Maria's serve yeah she has tinkered with the motion, I described it in SS as an 'ugly hybrid of her original serve and her 2012 motion'. I don't think it looks good but it's looked very impressive for large parts of the tournament, would need a couple more tournament to really see if it makes much different. That, and she doesn't throw her toss as far forward which has worked wonders for her going for the wide serve on the ad side.