Originally Posted by Chrissie-fan
It's for 70% mentally apparently too high of a mountain to climb for Maria and for 30% it's a case of Serena just being game-wise a bad match-up for Maria. Having said that, it's a mystery to me how she as a 17 year old was able to beat Serena in two of the biggest matches of that year only to become Serena's punching bag ever since.
As painful as it is to admit it, this is where I have to give Azarenka credit. Record wise, she's pretty much been in the same boat as Maria when it comes to head-to-head against Serena. But with each loss, I never got the sense that she was getting discouraged. Her body language, her post-match attitude, and comments were always positive. No matter how many times Vika lost, she'd walk onto that court believing she could compete with and beat Serena. And, slowly but surely, their matches were becoming more competitive. She should have won that US Open final and, injury-aided as it was, she broke the streak and beat Serena in Doha. I'm sure it's done wonders to her confidence.
That's the challenge Maria isn't meeting. She isn't believing in herself the moment she steps on the court and you almost always see the early DFs, errors, and breaks of serve that put her in an immediate hole, which brings even more doubt.
And, as usual, it starts with Maria's serve. Her game simply cannot function at a high level if she's double-faulting in the 6-10 range and having a low first serve %. It's been issue number one since the shoulder surgery and, even though it's improved greatly the past couple of years, it's still the prime indicator in determining how well she's performing overall. Her serve and her psyche are linked together, so if Maria can get her serve more consistent in the next few weeks, she has a great chance to contend for titles.