Quality of Year-End Championships - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quality of Year-End Championships

Ok, before this gets flagged as offtopic (it relates to this year's YEC), I will bring up what I find as a link to Blast From the Past... doesn't Mauresmo's mental game (and sometimes tennis game) remind anyone of Sabatini? Gaby would win big events like the Italian Open, Amelia Island, etc. but rarely make it into Slam finals or close out third sets/etc. I found myself thinking of the parallels during this weeks' event. Does anyone think anything of the two as being slightly similar?

As far as this year's YEC, does anyone find it to be (objectively) lower-quality than expected? I have found many of the players to look frustrated, injured, and not moving as well as normal. Especially regarding the Serena Williams matches, it seems that she is not bending her knees or pushing off on her serve as much as normal from some injury or perceived injury... and I haven't seen her hit out as much as normal nor move as well as she can. In each of her matches it is as if her opponents sense this but are afraid to capitalize and (except for Davenport) wind up losing. Even a friend of mine who is not a tennis coach as myself or as dedicated a follower has seen some of Serena and been like "What the heck? Is she trying? That's not how she normally is." I give her credit for mentally trying very hard and fighting as usual, but I don't find her level of tennis as high as many reporters and fans posting believe. In fact, when she was playing Davenport and leading I said to a friend "If she wins this match, as she did the last two, this is pathetic for the current field-she is a fantastic player but is not playing well, not moving well, and is vulnerable to someone who is willing to step up and mentally want it." Against Mauresmo not only did Amelie choke after trying hard not to, but she herself didn't play as well as she has the past 3 weeks- in my opinion as a result of knowing she had a great chance to beat Serena.

I am not knocking just Serena or the women's game-it's good to watch this tournament, for sure-but watching Dementieva play she seemed to not be hitting out vs. Serena just waiting for mistakes, I saw Davenport look injured and disinterested at times, Sharapaova looked PISSED against Mauresmo and even vs. Myskina, not seeming to be mentally or physically fit, and just about every player looked "off".

Putting excitement or favorites aside, does anyone else agree that the tournament has had lots of spotty tennis? I have been disappointed with the level.

Rollo-hope you understand it's sometimes better to ask opinions in this forum than in GM!
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 01:58 PM
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Everybody is making those Sabatini/Mauresmo comparisons, but overall, I don't think their games are that similar at all- for several reasons:

1. Amelie Mauresmo has more pace. She hits her shots with nearly as much topspin as Gabriela used to, however she hits with more extreme grips on both sides, and generates much more pace on average off both sides;

2. Amelie Muresmo is faster. Her footwork is markedly better than Sabatini's ever was- she is much quicker around the court, and as a result is hitting many more balls with her balance intact and hitting through the ball and moving forward through the shot. Sabatini was the picture of how to hit falling off your shot and onto the back foot and getting away with it by brushing up the back of the ball to impart the excessive topspin needed to keep off-balance shots coming back down into the court. Face it- Gaby had big feet and she wasn't all that quick on them in comparison to most players in the top 10 around her;

3. The Serve. The comparisons are obvious- Amelie gets much more out of her serve. I think Gaby was a better fighter and could hang in there mentally with a tough opponent much better than Mauresmo can, and maybe ever will; and

4. The Volley. Mauresmo is a better all-around volleyer. She actually sticks most of her volleys, in comparison to the Sabatini approach-drop volley that we usually saw from her. Even if the drop-volleys were winners, Gaby had so many opportunities to really punch her volleys, and well over 50% of the time when in this position opted for the drop volley or actually hit volleys that sat up asking for the opponent to rip a passing shot.

Good topic!
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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I've no objections at all Grafiati


I think all your observations are pretty on target too, though (since this is the Blast) I can also confirm that in years past there was also a little malaise around some of the YEC, especially those that had a round robin format. The worst year I can recall was 1979, which I saw first hand.

Evert was really off, Goolagong was injured, the semis and final were blowouts, and there was only one 3 set match all week!


Round Robin: Red Group
Tracy Austin d. Wendy Turnbull (Aus) 6-1 6-0
Chris Evert d. Dianne Fromholtz (Aus) 6-1 6-4
Austin d. Evert 6-1 6-3
Turnbull d. Fromholtz 4-6 6-1 6-4

Blue Group
Martina Navratilova d. Kerry Reid (Aus) 6-3 6-0
Evonne Goolagong (Aus) d. Regina Marsikova (Cz) 6-1 6-1
Navratilova d. Goolagong 6-3 6-2
Marsikova d. Reid walkover

Play-offs
Evert d. Marsikova 6-3 6-0
Turnbull d. Goolagong walkover

Semi-finals
Austin d. Evert 6-3 6-0
Navratilova d. Turnbull 6-2 6-0

Final
Navratilova d. Austin 6-2 6-1
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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Link to all the YEC results of the Past and a reminder to me to update 2003 and 2004. If anyone has memories or comments to share I can paste them into the thread.

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=52909
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:09 PM
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Alfa-I'm in a devilish mood-so let me ask this-why doesn't Mauresmo (so far)have the record Gaby did? 1 slam and 2 YEC titles to zilch for Mauresmo. Do you think Amelie can fulfill here potential and grab a slam or two?
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:17 PM
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Another rather weak year was 1981 when Austin nor Evert played. Jaeger beat Hanika in the semis and Navratilova beat Bunge before MN beat Yaegs in the finals. However 2 championships were played in those days and the other one (in East Rutherford) was a first class event.

I think the championships lost a lot of their value since they moved it from one place to the next, reducing the final to a best of three and changing the format. In the late 70s/early 80s they were even more important than the Australian Open and at least equal to the French, now they seem to be lightyears behind the Grand Slams and in one league with million dollar events in Indian Wells or Miami.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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Moving about did hurt Robert. Why they abandoned Madison Square Garden I'll never know. Crowds looked a LOT better this year.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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I agree with the Mauresmo/Sabatini comparison. Not so much on the style of play, but on the inability to win on the huge occasion. Sabatini's 2 YEC final wins were against weaker opponents. Early upsets cleared the path for her. This year's FO made me write off Mauresmo even though I love to watch her play. The field was paved for her to win. Sabatini's 2 finest big event moments IMO were her USO win and her 5 set loss to Monica. Mauresmo can claim nothing like that. She probably would've won the YEC this year had the #1 ranking not been on the line -- too much pressure.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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I'm not so sure Mauresmo is out of the reckoning yet. She's going to end the year at #2 (her best YE ranking ever) and she had been far more consistent this year than ever before (admittedly with so many players out injured at various points in 2004, this is not as noteworthy as it would have been in some other seasons). Her style of play is one that is evolving and improving with age. The big question is whether the added confidence gained by being able to challenge the top players consistently is enough to outweigh the toll taken in terms of pressure, frustration and disappointment at still not having bagged a big one. For me, she still has some time left (but not much).
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo
Alfa-I'm in a devilish mood-so let me ask this-why doesn't Mauresmo (so far)have the record Gaby did? 1 slam and 2 YEC titles to zilch for Mauresmo. Do you think Amelie can fulfill here potential and grab a slam or two?
I agree (Rollo, I promise I'm not going into every thread agreeing with you!) This was the first thing that occurred to me. If Amelie is a better player, why was Gaby more successful, not only in terms of titles, but also in her record against the top players of her day: Graf. Seles, Nav. Snachez-Vicario?
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo
Alfa-I'm in a devilish mood-so let me ask this-why doesn't Mauresmo (so far)have the record Gaby did? 1 slam and 2 YEC titles to zilch for Mauresmo. Do you think Amelie can fulfill here potential and grab a slam or two?
I think it definitely comes down to mental toughness. To her great credit, Amelie has worked very hard to become the most consistent player on the tour right now. That match with Serena was won on a few shots, and IMO came down to mental toughness, which is where she has, and continues to falter. She didn't take it to Serena when she had the chance, and you could almost see the 1 win vs. 7 losses record in her face when it got close in that third set. Also (not to start a firestorm here), I think Gaby was extremely lucky to win that 1 major, and in fact benefitted from a down the line forehand pass that was arguably out, and had Graf gotten the benefit from that call, she may have, and probably would have won that tie-breaker and the second set, and gone on (as she did so many times in their rivalry) to wear Gaby down on the big occasion in the third set. Another good comparison is the number of injuries each player has been dealt up to and including the mid-way point of their careers- I think Amelie has suffered the greater from extended breaks with more serious injuries that have sidelined her progress. That said- it does come down to mental toughness, and Gaby was a tougher match player than Amelie (so far). Let's hope Mauresmo improves in this department, because I would love to see her finally turn that around.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert1
Another rather weak year was 1981 when Austin nor Evert played. Jaeger beat Hanika in the semis and Navratilova beat Bunge before MN beat Yaegs in the finals. However 2 championships were played in those days and the other one (in East Rutherford) was a first class event.

I think the championships lost a lot of their value since they moved it from one place to the next, reducing the final to a best of three and changing the format. In the late 70s/early 80s they were even more important than the Australian Open and at least equal to the French, now they seem to be lightyears behind the Grand Slams and in one league with million dollar events in Indian Wells or Miami.

Hi Robert! Like Rollo, I agree that moving around has hurt this event. I think the players used to regard this as one of the most important event - THE most important after the Grand Slams. From what little I've seen, I don't see the same sort of commitment to the event as there used to be. That really stinks considering that the idea of bringing the top 16 players together for a year--end showdown is a great one.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
I think it definitely comes down to mental toughness. To her great credit, Amelie has worked very hard to become the most consistent player on the tour right now. That said- it does come down to mental toughness, and Gaby was a tougher match player than Amelie (so far). Let's hope Mauresmo improves in this department, because I would love to see her finally turn that around.
I totally agree: Gaby wasn't a choker. If she could have had the flexibility of Mauresmo's game, she'd have been quite an entity to take on. Mauresmo can't close, and she knows it, and Capriati is another confirmed choker, who thankfully wasnt there to clutter the field with any more inefficient energy to embarrass the women's pro circuit.

I also agree with the original post that in both Serena's victories, she came from behind a set and a break because her opponent didnt have any balls to put the match away. There is a mental fragility in this generation that is unreal. Even a Bonnie Gadusek knew how to close out a match in greater style than these wimpy performances we saw from Mauresmo & Myskina (with Myskina being somewhat of a modern version of manuela maleeva; more hard hitting and precise but with a game built around making someone else mentally tire, play poorly, and self-destruct...), and it only highlights why the men have stolen the show in recent years. Serena won because, even though she is playing VERY sloppy, sluggish, all-arm tennis, she isn't AFRAID to go for her shots (even if she is missing quite often), and once she senses the fear, I do see her gain a bit of confidence that, even though she is stinking in her play, she is at least adult enough to close a simple match. I'll give her that.

Sharapova will not be as kind in terms of chickening out, so we may well see a repeat of the wimbledon final...not in score, but in result.

And really, Henin-Hardenne is sorely missed in bringing some class, heart, and fight to the championships. At least with Justine, when she 'shrinks' it occurs off-court and results merely in default.

Last edited by daze11; Nov 15th, 2004 at 08:57 PM.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by daze11
...And really, Henin-Hardenne is sorely missed in bringing some class, heart, and fight to the championships. At least with Justine, when she 'shrinks' it occurs off-court and results merely in default.
I agree- I miss the little general gutsing it out and going for screaming backhand winners when it's all on the line- taking control of the match. There's such a palpable difference between playing to win and playing not to lose- sometimes I want to reach right through the TV screen and light a fire under these girls!
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 2004, 07:53 PM
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sharapova has less of the dehabilitating fear, at least. she reminds me a bit of what andrea temesvari was wishing she could be but never quite solidified.
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