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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 07:06 AM   #376
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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Originally Posted by stromatolite View Post
^I don't think we're in any real disagreement on the point that tightness causes Sam some problems, just on the causes of that tightness.

I think she got tight yesterday because she lacked the match rhythm to be fully confident in her game on the crucial points. Playing in Australia may have played a role in that, but I don't think it was a really major factor. Neither in her interview did Sam. She was very up front last year that nerves got the better of her, now she says that isn't the case. I believe her.

As to RG 2010: I think we should all take a good look at Navratilova's comments in the article Adomoose posted on the news and articles thread. I think she hit a really fundamental problem right on the head. Other players have gotten used to her game, so it's not such a big surprise any more. I think Sam is a far better player now than she was in 2010, but she doesn't get the mileage out of her serve and FH that she did back then. She's still adjusting to that, but Sam being Sam (in Bertrand's words, she's a non-linear player) that's a bit of a hit and miss process.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 08:35 AM   #377
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Re: ...HardCourt II

To be honest, I think yesterday was the most recent edition of a pretty long running match structure for Sam. Start out badly, play better in the second set, get an early lead in the third, then tighten up and lose. In fact, it probably wasn't too far away from being a direct replica of her Moscow match against Caro.

Not to say that homeground tightness wasn't a factor, but it felt as much of a "Sam-in-general" issue as a "Sam-in-Australia issue". I wouldn't say the same thing about her loss against Arvidsson though.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 09:49 AM   #378
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Re: ...HardCourt II

^Yes yesterday's lost has continued her recent trend of losses with a single break in the third set after losing the first set. Although we should cut her some slack for not playing her best due to her injury - the way she surrendered the last game by going 0-40 down was disappointing and really ''sam like'. Most of us could probably predict that Sam would lose the last set 6-4 or 7-5 or 7-6 given her past results and the fact she was serving second in the third set unfortunately So yeah like Silverpersian says its more a "Sam in general" category. I guess we will never know how much the Australia factor played in her mind this year as it coincided with the news of the ankle surgery. I am sure it was a bit of factor but probably not as much as the media portray it to be.

Re her serves - she was pretty predictable in the placement of her second serve in particular - I was able to pretty much predict where she was going to serve most of the time so doubt so was JZ. So most of the time JZ was ready to deliver the first blow when Sam is serving - we all know that when you rob Sam of time she is in trouble especially if you pin her down to her backhand side with pace. Perhaps she stuck to the serves she was most comfortable with due to her lack of practice time.

On the bright side - noticed that her slice technique has improved- there were a few times that her knifing of the backhand reminded me of steffi's slice backhand - there seem to be more follow through for this shot this year. Also I noticed she was less wobbly with her volleys at the net. The bhdtl is mia at the moment though - you can tell she doesn't feel very good with this shot yet for the season - think I only saw her hit one bhdtl winner in the whole match. These were flying off her racket during the end of last season. Given she wasn't really given too many forehands to crush and her backhand so hit and miss she did a pretty good job getting so close. Interesting to see how how she fares this year when all her components of her game comes together. Just a pity her surgery meant she didnt have much time in the off season to tweak and improve her game.

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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 10:38 AM   #379
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Re: ...HardCourt II

I think the Sam-in-general problem comes down to her getting stressed out when, for whatever reason, she doesn't feel in control of things on court. I don't think that's a unique Sam-problem, but it is a problem that most of the top players have a lot less than Sam does.

Part of that could be because, as Navratilova put it, Sam plays a risky game, which means that she can quickly lose control when her shots aren't firing. I think that leads to a kind of downward spiral in Sam's mind: knowing how easily she can lose control leads to stress, which leads to actual loss of control, which leads to more stress and so on.

I think the fact that so many players are much more familiar with her game adds to that: she goes on court fully expecting to face a tough challenge, no matter who the opponent is. Also, to be blunt, Sam's shotmaking can be inconsistent at the best of times.

I thought Navratilova's advice was interesting in the light of Sam and Dave's recent comments about what they expect her to achieve this year. They seem to be piling on the expectation. Martina seems to think she should do the opposite. Bertrand too I think
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 01:48 PM   #380
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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Originally Posted by Adomoose View Post
Just got back. My battery died after the second set. Here is my not so expert thoughts:

- watching her train earlier in the day she was so relaxed and hitting really well.
- from the moment she walked on court she was so tense and kept trying to shake her arms and shoulders to release the tension. As a result she had no zing in her shots in the first set and really had no confidence.
- Second set the crowd really did lift her and the ball was getting heavier off her racket.
- As soon as she missed an opportunity she would start muttering to herself, the tension would come back and her game falls apart.
- she showed real glimpses of old Sammy and I think she can get some real confidence from today's match
- her box was next to us and they looked really tense thoughout the whole match.
- she needs to use the crowd to her advantage more. When they were loud (I was one of them ) she really lifted but when she is down she doesn't use them to give her energy.
- Her second serve has lost its zing and she is losing confidence on her serve.
- overall a few wins and a bit of confidence and all will be back to normal

Now after nearly 11hrs of very hot tennis, I am going to bed to have sweet dream about Eva!
Thanks so much, Adomoose, for this insight into the match. I like the fact that you shared your perspective based on what you saw and avoided too much speculation (which is what I am trying to do at the moment).

One thing that stands out for me is the transition from Practice Sam to Match Sam. Sure, a match is going to be much more stressful than practice, but to visibly see the tension appear as soon as she stepped onto the court is troubling to me. Seems like the confidence breakdown happens before the first point is played, and that's going to be an issue until she gets a few wins under her belt.

This loss may have more to do with her shedding the Aussie Crowd demons also. It would be comforting to me to know that she went out there and played her match without the home crowd issues of the past, even if she lost. This way, I'm more optimistic about the AO, despite the shaky start.

I'm with you - it's too early to jump to conclusions. Wins will lead to confidence, and then all will be right in Sam's world.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 03:01 PM   #381
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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Originally Posted by SilverPersian View Post
To be honest, I think yesterday was the most recent edition of a pretty long running match structure for Sam. Start out badly, play better in the second set, get an early lead in the third, then tighten up and lose. In fact, it probably wasn't too far away from being a direct replica of her Moscow match against Caro.

Not to say that homeground tightness wasn't a factor, but it felt as much of a "Sam-in-general" issue as a "Sam-in-Australia issue". I wouldn't say the same thing about her loss against Arvidsson though.
This comment got me thinking (thinking always takes a while in my case, which is why I try to avoid it whenever possible ).

It's true that this is a pretty long-running pattern for Sam, but there are some subtle variations on it that might be meaningful I think (sorry Sinclair, life without speculation is no life for me). There have been some matches, like the RG SF against Errani and even more so the Wimbledon R2 against Rus, where Sam has inexplicably lost the plot after being completely in control of the match. Although I didn't see the match, I think the Errani match in Istanbul might fall into the same category. In my book these are the really bad losses for Sam, there just seems to be no rational reason for them at all.

I wouldn't put yesterday's loss into the same category. Sam was never completely in control, and Jie always looked dangerous. To be sure, at the start of the third set Sam looked the stronger player, but at no point did she have Jie on the ropes like she did Errani and Rus. And in contrast to those two matches, this time it was Jie who raised her game and came back at Sam rather than Sam handing the initiative to her on a plate. To be sure, it's a bit disappointing that Sam was not able to find an extra gear to counter that, but for me it was a much less painful and forgivable loss than those other ones.

The Caro match in Istanbul was similar to that I thought. It was a bit of a struggle for Sam throughout the match, and Caro played one of the best matches I've ever seen from her. At no point was Sam really in control, but equally, there was no point where she was completely out of contention either.

Then there was the classic USO QF against Vika. IMO Sam has rarely played better than she did in the second and third sets of that match, and she fought like a warrior right up till the end.

I think that Sam deals better with a constant level of pressure than she does with fluctuating pressure, because pressure stops her from thinking too much.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 09:16 PM   #382
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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(sorry Sinclair, life without speculation is no life for me).
Your quote, Stromatolite, reading it, I immediately felt we will refer to it during the year.

I immediately want Google to index it, just to be sure.

B.
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Old Jan 8th, 2013, 09:25 PM   #383
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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Originally Posted by bertisonline View Post
Your quote, Stromatolite, reading it, I immediately felt we will refer to it during the year.

I immediately want Google to index it, just to be sure.

B.
Yes, but could we just let Sam get through more than two matches (post-surgery) before we start?!? Haha!

I'm really trying hard to take a wait and see approach this year, but dammit! It's so hard to do when she gives us so much material to mull over..... Like I said before, I don't know what we'd have to talk about if our fave was a boring player.
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 12:38 PM   #384
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Re: ...HardCourt II

Watching last match I tried to forget that it’s in Australia and look at it as the second match of the season. I think Sam was a bit slow and a big part of UE was because of not approaching to the ball well enough. This should get better soon. Backhand also should be fixed with some match practice. I mean Sam puts so much work on her every shot that she needs to feel physically 100% and needs some time to make everything working. But it’s really bothering that after US Open 2012 the serve isn’t working effectively. And I don’t understand what happened.

Last year Sam had so many long and tough matches that by the end of the season she seemed exhausted both physically and mentally. These kind of matches are good when you win but losing them took a lot from her emotionally. She needs some positive emotions on court and more energy. Maybe it’s because I can’t explain it technically but I felt like Sam’s shots in her last few matches lacked energy. Maybe it will come by winning some matches.
Last season she began gaining confidence from her wins in Fed Cup and it’s a pity that this time they have to play against Czechs in indoor hardcourts.
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Old Jan 9th, 2013, 01:02 PM   #385
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Re: ...HardCourt II

^The "good" news is that atm both Petra and Lucie are slumping a bit as well. Not really good news because I like both girls, but like you said a FC win could relaunch Sam's form and confidence.

It's hard to say at this stage whether Sam is going through a form slump or is just rusty and/or hampered by playing at home (Sinclair, you're right, we just don't have enough data at this stage so I'm pulling my head in. Sorry Bertrand if this wrecks your google plans).

The AO will tell us more I guess. I don't have high hopes for a deep run, but hope she plays well and wins a few matches. That would set her up for the continuation of the season after she leaves Australia. Go Sammy
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:01 AM   #386
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Re: ...HardCourt II

Twelve hours until the main draw is released.

Please no bullshit match up issues tennis gods. I want a five foot zero right hander who cannot hit through the court...and preferably who cannot serve...or run.
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:03 AM   #387
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Re: ...HardCourt II

^I'm having a recurring nightmare that Sam will be drawn against Jarka in R1
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:12 AM   #388
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Re: ...HardCourt II

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^I'm having a recurring nightmare that Sam will be drawn against Jarka in R1
I would be so annoyed if that happened

There are alot of dangerous players Sam could be drawn against in the first round or at least meet early. Its a scary thought.. please me kind draw!
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:12 AM   #389
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Re: ...HardCourt II

All that time supporting Jarka back into some decent form, vomited back into our faces.

Yes, that sounds like quite a likely narrative for Sam's AO2013

Or it could be Cirstea again. Or Sveta...
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Old Jan 10th, 2013, 10:16 AM   #390
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Re: ...HardCourt II

Yeah, Sveta is a bit worrying for sure, she seems to be finding her form again. Cirstea could also be a nasty case of deja vu. But a lot will come down to how Sam plays: if she can find some decent form and plays aggressively, she *should* be able to beat any non-seed.
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