Originally Posted by DOUBLEFIST
Okay, look. I'm not here to Troll. I don't hate Maria. Though I will throw her under the bus in relation to Serena every time and make no apologies for that, I actually like her game. So here's my question: What the hell is really going on?
She's clearly not as fit and technically she's a mess. I've never seen her dump so many balls in the net. Usually if she's making errors off the ground she hitting long. Is this hip injury more serious than we've been led to believe. That's the only reason I can think of for her pulling off on so many groundstrokes. She seemed very reluctant to staying down and hitting through the ball.
Also, there were balls that in times past she never would have given up on that she simply refused to try and get. Ultimately, I'm beginning to believe that she should have never been on the court tonight.
Anyway, again, I'm not trying to troll. If I was, I would have posted this in the GM, and it would have been open season. So...,
Well, first off, I think you have to factor in rust. When you have an injury and many weeks away from competition, you're going to see sloppy tennis. We've seen the same thing with Azarenka. Even though she pulled off a few wins, she looked really bad in Carlsbad. Not as bad as Maria's 16 winner/62 UFE debacle of tonight, but she was in the 12 winner to 30+ error range in her last two matches in that tournament. She looked like Maria, being a few steps too slow with unreliable groundstrokes. And Vika didn't look to good in her first match in Cincy either. She has gotten some wins, though, and that will help her before New York. Tonight's loss was very damaging to Maria, in that it robs her of more match time to help her form. I thought she'd win 2 or 3 in Cincinnati. Bottom line, too much time off hurt her.
Next point is one I've made a couple of times here, which is the coaching change. I won't go into it too much again here, but, suffice it to say, the coaching transition is a factor and I think working with a new voice has affected her timing and precision with her game overall. Also, I don't think Maria is playing with any confidence right now. Playing well and winning breeds confidence and that semifinal win over Azarenka at RG was really the last time Maria probably felt good about herself and her game and that was a while ago.
So it's the combination of injury, layoff, withdrawals, and a new coach that led to that mess you saw against Stephens. And the only cure is more matches and more tournaments to get her timing down. All the practicing in the world won't fix what ails her. It's unfortunate that the US Open is upon her when she's in this state, but she has no choice but to push ahead and do the best she can and improve what she can.