Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3
That article confirmed things that a lot of us have been saying about Maria for years, but were dismissed by haters as just tired excuses. But it’s a fact that Maria’s growth spurt affected her game, limiting things she used to do, forcing her to adjust. She doesn’t move as well as she used to and there are certain shots she can’t perform like before. It’s a fact that her shoulder problems wrecked her old serve and required her to reconstruct it in a way that at least helped her remain competitive. However, it’s clearly not close to the consistent weapon it once was. And I read laughable comments on GM recently that suggested Maria’s serve is better now than it ever was and she can’t use that as a reason for any losses or struggles. And it’s also a fact that her physical build of being tall, skinny, slower, and having lesser athleticism led her to having to do things differently to compensate for her shortcomings.
And for her to be saddled with these things and still achieve what she has and to remain a viable top 5 threat for all these years is a testament to her as a person and player. Her work ethic and perseverance have been amazing. I’ve also made the argument that Joyce brought up, in that it isn’t easy to play the style Maria plays and be successful and consistent. She has never been a brainless ball basher. It takes tremendous skill to pull off her high risk game and win as much as she has.
I do miss Maria being able to hit running winners more often. I watch many of her old matches and also marvel and get excited over her ability to create those angles and hit winners on the move and to defend better and turn defense into offense. She had deceptive speed in those early years. A lot of her opponents underestimated that aspect of her game. But I like that Maria continues to work hard today at trying to create new strengths and finding what works best for her body type. It hasn’t been easy for her, working with all of her limitations, but she’s maximized just about everything she could out of her God-given abilities.
There were times when I used to believe Maria was an underachiever as a tennis player, probably because I bought into that early success and hype and thought she should have won more. As I said, Maria is talented and skillful, but looking at the big picture and understanding the type of player Maria is physically, I now believe she’s probably one of the great overachievers in tennis history. There are always going to be disadvantages she has to overcome when she faces the very best players and it isn’t easy for her to do that all the time. And I think that’s why we’ve seen such lopsided losses in recent years to the more athletic players like Serena, Vika, and Li.
So I’ve gone back and re-examined several of Maria’s tough losses and come away thinking that maybe they weren’t as bad as I thought and I was too tough on her. She’s always doing the best she can with what she has to work with.