What's Kim's level and what does she need to work on? - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2009, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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What's Kim's level and what does she need to work on?

Hi fellow Kim fans!

As quite a few of us have now had the chance to watch Kim again, I thought this was a good time to post this kind of thread. Where do you think Kim's level is at since her comeback and what aspects of her game do you think she needs to work on most?

Personally, I think her level is already comparable to that of 2006-2007, maybe a bit lower. Obviously she's still quite far off from her best (2003-2005).

I've seen various reports of her game from people who've watched her matches (I only saw her match against Kuznetsova last week). The following aspects of her game were considered to be in need of improvement by these posters:

1. Serve: percentage and speed. Percentage wise, her serve already looks a lot better in Toronto than in Cincinatti. However, some people have said it lacks speed at times. This is completely the opposite of reports from the end of May/beginning of June. Her former coach Carl Maes told on Belgian TV that he was actually most impressed by her serve during the grass court exhibitons. Maybe Kim shifted her focus to training other strokes after being quite statisfied with the serve at that time?

2. Backhand: While her forehand looks in better condition than when she retired, her backhand still needs a bit of work. Especially high bounces and taking the ball early are areas that can be improved.

3. Movement: I think right now this is one of the biggest issues. Kim seems to have regained close to her old fitness and foot speed. But her foot work (those little extra steps and freshness) still looks somewhat lazy at times, causing her to arrive late at times or in bad postinioning before hitting the ball. She also doesn't seem to push off from her left side to the center of the court as efficiently as before yet. All these details contribute to her not being able to hit rabbit-like-running-mode, which allowed her to use her defensive skills to their maximum potential. That part of her game was not only a steady source of winning points, but even moreso an important mental weapon to demoralize opponents who had to hit not 1, not 2, but 3 extra balls each point. So that still needs some work. We should note too, however, that today's match against Azarenka was her 7th in 10 days already (including the doubles match with Wickmayer) so we should cut Kim some slack for being a bit tired and getting used to this high frequency of matches again, which can certainly have its consequences in terms of freshness, court speed and movement.

4. Consistency: her game level still seems to fluctuate up and down trough matches, causing her to have difficulties following up patches of good games and taking leads. This should be all right with some more match rhythm though!

5. Mental strength: as mentioned in the previous point, a consistent pattern in almost all of her comeback matches up to now (5) has been the loss of a lead, sometimes quite comfortable. (4-1 against Bartoli, points for 5-3 in the 2nd versus Kuznetsova, 4-2 versus Safina, 3-1 versus Baltacha, 4-1 versus Azarenka 2nd set). Part of this is due to lack of consistency, but another part of it is getting used to dealing with playing the big points again. Extra focus on BP, gamepoints etc. Realising that she's still better than most of today's girls and that she should be closing out her leads! Hopefully this will come with time too.

I would like to add, that, so far, I'm very proud of Kim and the level she's reached. I think she already is worthy of a place in the top-10. However, as a fan, I'd like to see her progress to a level as close as possible to the old Kim Kong level Hence the extreme detailed critique (which pales in comparison to my proudness).

What do you guys think? Feel free to add more to this list, or to contradict what I said if you feel I was wrong! Hoping for a nice discussion to get some insight about Kim's new game. Greets,

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old Aug 20th, 2009, 09:53 AM
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Re: What's Kim's level and what does she need to work on?

I've seen a few of Kim's matches now and here is what I think

1. Serve: Her serve was never the fastest one and never a real weapon (with an exception of the 2005 US series, but all those hip and back problems came after that), so I' m not expecting much here, her percentage might become better with more matches played, but I wouldn't bet any money on it.

2. Backhand: I think that nowadays, the young girls are striking backhands much harder than it was the case, lets say 4 years ago and those heavy backhand crosscourt exchanges are somewhat new territory for Kim. High bounces were always a problem for her, she always went a few steps back, way behind the baseline, instead of taking the ball early. So, nothing new there.

3. Movement: Yesterday, she was very quick in the first set, she got tired in the second, she looked exhausted in the third. She is 26, she is never gonna move again like when she was 20, that's a fact.

4. Consistency: This is the only point where I really expect some improvement, because she is a real mess right now.

5. Mental strength: What should I say here, except - good old Kim.

Kim is obviously still rusty, so hopefully all these things are gonna improve a little bit in time. The only thing I have a problem with right now, is her brain. Like yesterday: Azarenka is a pretty bad mover, yet it took Kim 5 games, before she finally started to make her move. Till 1-4 she kept hitting every ball back to Azarenka in the middle of the court. After that, she played good and smart, till 4-1 in the second set when she went to sleep. She started hitting the balls again back in the middle, allowing Azarenka being offensive and let her back in the match. It is like she has some kind of a switch on it, turning it off and on during her matches.

Another thing that I don't like, is that she is very predictive. She hits every backhand crosscourt. I saw 3 matches on TV and I don't think that i saw more than 5 backhands down the line. The same goes for her forehand as well. Those shots don't have to be powerful or extremely precise, they just need to break the rhythm of the opponent. I was especially lacking this during the match against Safina.

All in all, I am so happy that she is back, her style of play is so refreshing amongst all these players that all play in the same way. I'm just gonna lay back and enjoy every match that I can see, without having any expectations.
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