Originally Posted by Maria Croft
Eh, what are you smoking?
Sure, Maria doesn't have that certain 'touch' at the net, but she nearly wins every point when she gets there.
There's a simple reason for that. Hit a good approach shot, and then finish it quickly at the net.
Maria at her most brutal (US Open 2006) and confident (Australian Open 2008) would blast a shot into a corner and then follow up to the net to finish it quickly.
You don't need good volleys for that. A drive volley will do.
Honestly, it annoys me when she stays back or refuses to hit an overhead. So hearing this actually makes me hopeful about a more aggressive approach from Maria.
Still, practicing it and doing it in a real match are two very different things.
Exactly, Maria in her best tournaments in 2004-08 was CONSTANTLY coming forward, and usually had a very high % of points won at net. Her reluctance to swing-volley has definitely been one of the missing links in her game usually over the past few years -- as I always say, her game was NEVER about just hitting one massive unplayable shot from the back of the court a la Kvitova, it was about hitting a few very good shots and suffocating her opponent with the relentless length on her shots, and when she doesn't kill off the short balls that she elicits then she's wasting huge opportunities.
I feel her reluctance to swing-volley is possibly the best example of how her mindset has been holding her back over the past few years.... take Miami 2012, in the semifinal against Woz, Maria generally had a relaxed and aggressive mindset (aside from that strange 5-game losing streak at the end of the 1st set) and was constantly sprinting into the net and taking balls out of the air and killing off the point virtually everytime. Then just a couple of days later, in the final against Radwanska, Maria was visibly more uptight and anxious, and it translated into far more tentative play -- she was slower to actually start moving forward when she spotted a short ball, would often let the ball bounce rather than swing-volleying it, and would often just guide it into the court and give Radwanska a chance of hitting a passing shot.