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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 10:57 PM   #151
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Originally Posted by Mexicola View Post
I realize it was against 3rd rate talent in Linz, but Azarenka did what you're supposed to do against inferior opponents as a top ranked player, which is destroy them. Another easy title. No dropped sets this week. No dropped sets last week. Vika is in the same kind of zone in the middle of October that she was in back in January-March. So where's her fatigue? That's why I don't want to hear that excuse when it comes to Maria. Maria's game has deteriorated more and more as the year has gone on and she should be called on it, especially when her biggest rival is excelling.

With the exception of the occasional match like she had against Kerber, Maria continues to unload with the DFs, errors, and sloppiness against all opponents, no matter where they're ranked. Always playing down to the competition, instead of wiping the floor with scrubs, which is what she used to do.

It's good to have confidence in Maria and try to be positive, as shown with the changed thread title. But there can be a fine line between confidence and delusion. And the way these two are playing, it's delusional to think Maria will beat Vika, if they play, at the YEC. As much as I loathe Azarenka, I admire how ruthless and effortless she looks dispatching everyone lately. An amazing consistency day after day, match after match. Something we never get any more from Maria.

Maybe I am waving the white flag early, but after seeing what's happened these past two tournaments, I don't even see Serena beating Vika this time. Serena has had too long of a layoff and Vika will be hungry and confident after that tough US Open loss. Seeing her dominate like this makes me even more frustrated with Maria. She needs a great, and I mean REALLY GREAT offseason that she needs to take seriously or she will be in danger of being left in the dust permanently by Vika. I wonder if Maria and her team realize this.
I feel like this is another thing I've said before but for me, Maria's situation right now feels like pretty much the exact opposite of this time last year. Last year, her game was a shadow of what it's been even at her relatively mediocre tournaments in 2012 (e.g. her level at the US Open, while probably barely in her top half of best tournaments in 2012, would've been comfortably among her best performances in 2011) and consequently I was worried about the YEC simply because I wasn't sure if she could play well enough to beat the top girls, but mentally she seemed almost as tough as ever and would atleast give 100% mentally in matches even if her game wasn't up to the task. Whereas this year, I really do feel gamewise she's at a level that can beat anyone, but mentally I don't trust in her anywhere near as much as I did last year. I'm actually inclined to say her head has been a net liability for Maria's results this year (one of the only times that's been true for Maria, except maybe at times in 2010) -- what big matches can we really say her mental toughness saved her this year, her matches against Kvitova at the AO, Stosur in Stuttgart and against Lisicki at the Olympics? Compared to the countless big matches where she's crapped herself after playing like a boss in the previous rounds.

I dunno, I guess if I had to choose between her having problems with her game or her mind, I'd choose having problems with her mind, purely because she's such a mentally-tough character in general that I'd back her to overcome them even if it takes her a while. I do think it might be worth her while having a couple of sessions with a sports psychologist in the offseason though, just to get her to calm down and not put SO much pressure on herself as she has done at times this year -- this is just my gut instinct, but I still feel that the root of her problems is that in a way she almost wants success TOO much, and something I've learnt myself is that, sometimes, the more you want something, the less likely you actually are to succeed purely because of the pressure you're suffocating yourself with (as paradoxical as that sounds).
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 11:23 PM   #152
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

Mexicola, Maria and her team are one of best in sports. Yes, she is aware of a lot of things, but the big question is - how much does she have in her? How much more can she give? She is a human, too. And one thing is for sure, she cannot control the forms and achievements of other players... She is not the best ever that has picked up a racket, but she is giving her best, training hard, trying to improve day by day, operating with what she has and knows... If she wasn't serious about the sport and if she wasn't prepared to work hard, she wouldn't have been where she is today. She hasn't had it all on a silver plate (like many of WTA players haven't in fact, not to do them unjustice by saying that Maria hasn't had it all pink and gold..) and surely she fought as hard as she could after the shoulder surgery. And for that I am proud of her. She has come a long road... And like I once said - every title since the surgery is a bonus for her, and in general I still think so...
And maybe it is time to simply accet that this Vika is simply a better player than Maria.
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 11:33 PM   #153
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

Vika is a different style of player to Masha so I wouldn't consider her 'better'. IMO Vika is a defensive baseliner with an excellent return game and great balance. Whereas Masha is eternally offensive, something which posters haven't given Masha enough credit for as over the clay season she mixed defence with offence.

However, if you compare Masha vs Rena, then ofc Rena is the more talented player. Masha herself isn't naturally gifted at tennis but my God she has worked so hard to utilise the best of her abilities. Her CCBH is the best in the game IMO and her mentality too is sensational, you cannot train self-belief. Like you said MM, any title post shoulderpova is an achievement, but I think we as fans are expecting way more than to just be 'grateful' at another title because she's been so consistent this year and come so close to winning titles only to fail at the last hurdle. I think 2013 will be a different year, I don't think she'll win as many matches but I think she'll win the important ones.

This year has been excellent proof of her consistency, don't you all agree?
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 12:16 AM   #154
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Originally Posted by MM_1257 View Post
Mexicola, Maria and her team are one of best in sports. Yes, she is aware of a lot of things, but the big question is - how much does she have in her? How much more can she give? She is a human, too. And one thing is for sure, she cannot control the forms and achievements of other players... She is not the best ever that has picked up a racket, but she is giving her best, training hard, trying to improve day by day, operating with what she has and knows... If she wasn't serious about the sport and if she wasn't prepared to work hard, she wouldn't have been where she is today. She hasn't had it all on a silver plate (like many of WTA players haven't in fact, not to do them unjustice by saying that Maria hasn't had it all pink and gold..) and surely she fought as hard as she could after the shoulder surgery. And for that I am proud of her. She has come a long road... And like I once said - every title since the surgery is a bonus for her, and in general I still think so...
And maybe it is time to simply accet that this Vika is simply a better player than Maria.
I know Maria is only human and is a flawed tennis player. And I brought up the possibility that Maria may have already peaked and that we've seen the best she can give. And I long ago accepted that Serena Williams is far superior in every aspect of tennis compared to Maria. She probably is the greatest of all time.

However, after watching both Maria and Vika for years, I flat out don't believe she is a more talented player than Maria. A better player now? Certainly, without question. But more talented and with more potential? No, I don't think so. And that's why the lopsided rivalry with Vika upsets me a lot more than Maria's one-sided head-to-heads with Serena. Maria has the ability to beat Vika. She's just had a horrible time harnessing her ability and performing to a consistent level. Vika isn't blowing Maria off the court like Serena does. She just uses her speed and accuracy to drive Maria into errors and frustration most of the time. That's something Maria can counteract if she plays properly, which she isn't doing. We saw her do it in Stuttgart and in the first set of the US Open. It's there. She can do it.

It wasn't that long ago that we were talking about the laughable headcase Vika who had as many withdrawals and retirements as titles. She was the butt of jokes for YEARS. And she was never known as someone with supernatural talent. Yeah, she was hyped as a potential champion, but not the second coming of Serena or Navratilova. There's nothing about her that is intimidating. But she worked HARD in the 2011 offseason, and entered 2012 a completely different player. And that time and effort paid off. So if a lesser talented player like her can take her game to the next level, there's no reason to believe Maria can't do the same. And that's where Maria and her team come in. Following a loss, she always talks about being motivated to get better. Well, let's see that commitment, that attention to detail, that drive to be the best.

I just want to see a leap forward in her game and confidence next year. If Maria comes into 2013 and we see the same DFs, the same error-prone groundstrokes, and the same all power, all the time gameplan, then it probably will be time to accept that Maria has already shown the best she'll ever show and that a distant number 3 behind Serena and Vika will be the most she can hope for in the years to come.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 12:32 AM   #155
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Originally Posted by Mexicola View Post
I know Maria is only human and is a flawed tennis player. And I brought up the possibility that Maria may have already peaked and that we've seen the best she can give. And I long ago accepted that Serena Williams is far superior in every aspect of tennis compared to Maria. She probably is the greatest of all time.

However, after watching both Maria and Vika for years, I flat out don't believe she is a more talented player than Maria. A better player now? Certainly, without question. But more talented and with more potential? No, I don't think so. And that's why the lopsided rivalry with Vika upsets me a lot more than Maria's one-sided head-to-heads with Serena. Maria has the ability to beat Vika. She's just had a horrible time harnessing her ability and performing to a consistent level. Vika isn't blowing Maria off the court like Serena does. She just uses her speed and accuracy to drive Maria into errors and frustration most of the time. That's something Maria can counteract if she plays properly, which she isn't doing. We saw her do it in Stuttgart and in the first set of the US Open. It's there. She can do it.

It wasn't that long ago that we were talking about the laughable headcase Vika who had as many withdrawals and retirements as titles. She was the butt of jokes for YEARS. And she was never known as someone with supernatural talent. Yeah, she was hyped as a potential champion, but not the second coming of Serena or Navratilova. There's nothing about her that is intimidating. But she worked HARD in the 2011 offseason, and entered 2012 a completely different player. And that time and effort paid off. So if a lesser talented player like her can take her game to the next level, there's no reason to believe Maria can't do the same. And that's where Maria and her team come in. Following a loss, she always talks about being motivated to get better. Well, let's see that commitment, that attention to detail, that drive to be the best.

I just want to see a leap forward in her game and confidence next year. If Maria comes into 2013 and we see the same DFs, the same error-prone groundstrokes, and the same all power, all the time gameplan, then it probably will be time to accept that Maria has already shown the best she'll ever show and that a distant number 3 behind Serena and Vika will be the most she can hope for in the years to come.
Since we're on the topic of mentality (sort of...), can someone explain why she looked SO agitated early on in the 2nd set of her USO SF? I didn't catch the entire match, but it seemed like she was edgy as hell. Did something else happen as well? She's at her best when she's stoic, not flipping her hair over her face or hitting her racket
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 01:15 AM   #156
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Feel like it's the 10th time I've said this in recent weeks, but this tournament is literally the best chance Maria has to beat Serena. No wind to trigger the doublefaults, a slow surface to give her more time to get a hold on Serena's serve.

I honestly feel this has potential to be a monstrously good tournament for Maria (we all saw her great her serve could be in Stuttgart if she doesn't have to worry about the outdoor elements), and to me Beijing gave me the conclusion that she's not so fatigued that she's not capable of playing good tennis. But with that said it won't matter one jot if she's as headcasey as she's been lately.
Completely agree. I'm still not convinced Serena will show up though.

Maria's level of play against Kerber in Beijing showed me that the powerhouse hitting of pre-surgery Pova is still there, and like you said in your other post it's all about her head. The good news is that she'll be a huge underdog if and when she faces Vika and Serena, which means she can take that opportunity to open up her shoulders and let it rip. She's taken enough beatings from the pair of them this year so I'm thinking this tournament could be the moment when she says, "enough is enough." If Serena doesn't show up I won't be satisfied with anything less than a title, as crazy as that sounds
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 01:53 AM   #157
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

Maybe I didn't express myself well. I think Maria slowly reached/is reaching her mental peak... There is a lot of physical and mental effort invested in her tennis since 2008... And I think she is starting to crack up slightly... She is much more expressive, gets nervous and impatient and unsatisfied more easily than before surgery... This year even more evident than before... But maybe I am wrong.. Maybe I have just forgotten how it was before...
But if I am right, IDK how much has MAria left in the tank... If Vika goes on with this form and if Maria keeps a good form (hope so!!) she will need another mental boost to confront Vika... Right now, she is lacking that...
Besides, Vika is better than Kerber, so Kerber's match was so good to see, but it means nothing for the Maria vs. Vika matchup... In the latter Maria ends up being frustrated because Vika takes her game away from her and Maria is forced to do more even better in order to beat her and that is where the errors and impatience come in.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 03:25 AM   #158
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

I admit I didn't completely read every wall of text you all wrote... (sorry! ) but reading here and there I just feel sometimes too much optimism or too much defeatism...
It's october, the season has been long and exhausting for everyone, maybe even more for Maria who didn't have such a good year from january to october since, IDK, 2007?
Well, we saw ups and downs for everyone during this year, not a single player has been totally consistent in every tournament and on every surface, so I don't see the point of a discussion on who is better than who at this moment.
For example, look at how things looked after 2011 for Novak and Maria: he was looking unbeatable and she was looking like she couldn't improve anymore after the injury.
But what has 2012 told us? Novak returned "on earth" and he still had an awesome year with 70 wins, last year was something he probably could never ever top again in his career. Maria suddenly came out making 2 finals and 1 semi at slams, completing the slam, winning on clay, playing her best year after the injury.
The fact is that yes, at this moment Vika's game has something that Maria cannot figure out and she's losing every time to her on hardcourts, but we're talking about #1 and #2 players in the world (let's leave Serena out of this discussion - that's a whole different story) so it's not like she's struggling to beat nobodies like some she lost to when she had just returned from the shoulder injury.
I'm not saying she'll suddenly come out of nowhere beating Vika soon at YEC (of course I'd love to ) but not even saying she's a worse player overall and she's not going to beat her again. I have faith enough to believe it's a thing within her reach, if she works on her confidence and her gameplay to beat her on hardcourts and not only on clay.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 03:59 AM   #159
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Since we're on the topic of mentality (sort of...), can someone explain why she looked SO agitated early on in the 2nd set of her USO SF? I didn't catch the entire match, but it seemed like she was edgy as hell. Did something else happen as well? She's at her best when she's stoic, not flipping her hair over her face or hitting her racket
I first noticed this side of Maria during her Lisicki match at the Olympics. I've never seen her so visibly angry and frustrated during a match. I just chalked it up to Maria REALLY wanting to beat Sabine badly after what happened at the Wimbledon. But, at you said, the irritaed Maria returned at the US Open. And we also saw it again in Tokyo and Beijing.

I think part of the reason we're seeing this is that she just wants to win so much and is trying too hard. She really wanted to build on that clay success and it hasn't happened. And when the old DFs and errors return, she can't contain the frustration anymore, especially against someone like Vika. Just my theory.

Part of me likes seeing the demonstrative, passionate Maria, but classic, confident Maria mastered the poker face. As the commentators always loved to point out, no matter if Maria was winning or losing, her expression never changed. And that was the best Maria.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 05:24 AM   #160
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Originally Posted by dsanders06 View Post
Feel like it's the 10th time I've said this in recent weeks, but this tournament is literally the best chance Maria has to beat Serena. No wind to trigger the doublefaults, a slow surface to give her more time to get a hold on Serena's serve.

I honestly feel this has potential to be a monstrously good tournament for Maria (we all saw her great her serve could be in Stuttgart if she doesn't have to worry about the outdoor elements), and to me Beijing gave me the conclusion that she's not so fatigued that she's not capable of playing good tennis. But with that said it won't matter one jot if she's as headcasey as she's been lately.
Completely agree. Slow indoor court, no wind, Serena hasn't played since USO. I so want her in her group. To get Maria going from the start if she indeed intends to win this tournament.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 07:22 AM   #161
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

I need these groups, ASAP
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #162
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

I really want Aga, Kerber and Li in her YEC group
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 11:49 AM   #163
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

She's a human being guys, things happen, people change. Who knows what is going on in her tennis life as well as personal life that could effect the way she plays. I also noticed she has been getting angrier lately on court as opposed to her usual cool persona. Of course I'm hoping she will come out firing at the YEC a la 2007 but we will see. I'm staying optimistic, theres no doubt she is capable of beating Vika, and also at least giving serena a good match.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 01:42 PM   #164
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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I first noticed this side of Maria during her Lisicki match at the Olympics. I've never seen her so visibly angry and frustrated during a match. I just chalked it up to Maria REALLY wanting to beat Sabine badly after what happened at the Wimbledon. But, at you said, the irritaed Maria returned at the US Open. And we also saw it again in Tokyo and Beijing.
Hmmm... The Olympic Maria was totally different from Tokyo Maria and Tokyo was different from Beijing, not the same kind of frustration and not because of the same reasons. In my opinion.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 06:07 PM   #165
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Re: YEC 2012 iSTANBUL Mission: Beat Vika/Rena, humiliate Haga and win the title.

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Originally Posted by MM_1257 View Post
Maybe I didn't express myself well. I think Maria slowly reached/is reaching her mental peak... There is a lot of physical and mental effort invested in her tennis since 2008... And I think she is starting to crack up slightly... She is much more expressive, gets nervous and impatient and unsatisfied more easily than before surgery... This year even more evident than before... But maybe I am wrong.. Maybe I have just forgotten how it was before...
I agree with you saying that this year she's been more nervous/expressive/unsatisfied.

What I DON'T agree with is that it necessarily has to stay that way. Players are able to work on mental blocks -- look at Federer, he was choking matches left and right for most of 2011, and then he took a couple of months off working with his coach on how to stay calm in matches, and since then he's been able to stay mentally tough enough to win 2 of 3 matches against his bogeyman Nadal and has generally held his nerve in crunch matches.

(And no, I'm not saying Maria is anywhere close to Federer in terms of tennis talent, but I DO think she's mentally tougher in general than Federer has ever been, so the analogy stands I think.)

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Besides, Vika is better than Kerber, so Kerber's match was so good to see, but it means nothing for the Maria vs. Vika matchup... In the latter Maria ends up being frustrated because Vika takes her game away from her and Maria is forced to do more even better in order to beat her and that is where the errors and impatience come in.
At the risk of sounding like a sore loser, there really is no doubt in my mind that Maria would've beaten Azarenka had she played like she did against Kerber Yes, Vika's better than Kerber, but not so much that she would've been able to hang with Maria in that form.
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