Natasha can do everything that any player can possibly dream of doing , even Hingis can't do the things she tries , if only she took singles more serious.
She played with a DH backhand , can slice wickedly one handed , produce magic drop shots .<br /> She had everyshot in the book but that made her decision which shot to play all the more harder .... <img src="redface.gif" border="0"> if only I had that prob.
But her mind lets her down , she didn't really put 100% into every match. But when she was on fire she was totally fab.
Natasha was amazing to watch - could do every shot you can think of and several you can't. Always very entertaining to watch, always enjoying tennis. Here's an article which I think sums her up rather well:
Not a singles regret
by Joel Drucker
Natasha Zvereva knows she could have been a singles champion. But with<br /> millions in the bank from a Hall-of-Fame doubles career, she has no<br /> reason to look back.
Every morning when Natasha Zvereva wakes up, she asks herself one<br /> question: 'What is today?'
If she's in Newport Beach, Calif., the upscale seaside community where she<br /> lives when on leave from the WTA Tour, her day might include one or more<br /> of the following: dipping into a collection of short stories by fellow Russian<br /> emigre Vladimir Nabokov; shopping at one of the many upscale boutiques<br /> in her town; hitting the dance floor with a passion she seldom displays on a<br /> tennis court; or hosting a gourmet dinner for half a dozen friends. Following<br /> a three-week run of California tournaments this summer, for instance,<br /> Zvereva concocted a feast of osso bucco, asparagus tips, criss-cross fried<br /> potatoes and an exceptionally buttery fruit tart.
Oh, yes, also on the agenda: Hitting tennis balls for an hour with fellow<br /> Newport Beach resident Kevin Forbes, who was ranked in Southern<br /> California as a junior, or former roommate and current doubles partner<br /> Lindsay Davenport. We're not talking a 60-minute Jimmy Connors workout,<br /> where it's combat to the death by the fourth ball. Rather, Zvereva's<br /> practices are nice, friendly hits that usually lack the intensity of one of<br /> Zvereva's typical trips to the supermarket. And don't even ask about the<br /> gym or the track, today or any other day.
Subtract t he home-cooked meal, throw in a couple of matches and you've<br /> got a good picture of Zvereva's life on the road, too. Sometimes, such as at<br /> the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford this past July, she will<br /> step onto the court to play a doubles match without having struck a single<br /> warm-up ball. That day, she hid behind sunglasses and, aside from her<br /> usual pigtails, wore a distracted, almost fatigued, look. Yet once the match<br /> began, she brightened considerably, mixing laughter with play as<br /> consistent and creative as virtually any doubles player's in tennis history.<br /> Roughly an hour later, she and Davenport, the top seeds, had beaten<br /> Larisa Neiland and Elena Tatarkova in straight sets.
For Davenport, the victory completed a daily double; she had won the<br /> singles crown earlier in the afternoon. But Zvereva, in a pattern that typifies<br /> her career, dominated in doubles while failing to advance to the final<br /> weekend on her own.
Her Hall-of-Fame-caliber resume features more than 70 doubles titles,<br /> including 20 Grand Slam crowns. Singles is another story. Though Zvereva<br /> climbed to No. 5 by age 18, she has earned only three solo tournament<br /> victories, and her lone Grand Slam final appearance, a crushing<br /> straight-set loss to Steffi Graf at the French Open, was back in 1988.<br /> Zvereva, in fact, has earned the most prize money ($6.6 million) of any<br /> woman never to have won a major singles title.
'I don't know why, but doubles just comes to me,' she says. 'It always has.<br /> It's just too easy. I can get away with more things, my serve is less of a<br /> liability and I only have to cover half a court.'
For a fleeting moment this summer, Zvereva raised the hopes of her many<br /> fans that she might make a run at the singles glory many had forecast for<br /> her as a teenager.
It happened on grass, the surface that best suits her smorgasbord of<br /> speeds, spins, angles and volleys -- and her short attention span. First, at<br /> Eastbourne, she sliced and diced Venus Williams en route to a 6-2, 6-1 win<br /> in the second round.
That was just a warm-up -- literally -- to her Wimbledon performance, where,<br /> in the third round, she defeated Steffi Graf for the first time in 19 meetings.<br /> During the course of that 6-4, 7-5 triumph, Zvereva converted 78 percent of<br /> her first serves, cleverly directed balls to Graf's weaker backhand wing and<br /> used a deft assortment of drop shots and daring net forays.
Five days later Zvereva straight-setted Monica Seles, covering the court<br /> with uncommon grace and using her varied shot arsenal to render<br /> ineffective Seles's double-fisted bashes. It was just the second time ever<br /> that one player had beaten Graf and Seles at the same event. Though<br /> Zvereva subsequently lost a three-set semifinal to Nathalie Tauziat, her<br /> All-England performance boosted her singles ranking from No. 22 to No.<br /> 15.
But it turns out her success, rather than emblematic of a renewed<br /> commitment to singles, was an anomaly.
Her singles goals remain modest, if not also curious: 'I would like to be in<br /> the Top 10, but just barely,' she says, lowering her voice and slowing down<br /> her words.'I would be really happy to be No. 8 to 10, though I wouldn't<br /> complain at No. 7. I'm coming from the point of view that I can get there on<br /> my natural ability alone.'
'I'm very lazy,' she continues. 'I'm not going to commit myself to hard work.'
Sitting in the player's lounge at Stanford, still sweating from an early-round<br /> singles victory, Zvereva addresses the chasm between her singles and<br /> doubles records. 'It's not that singles doesn't matter,' she says. 'People<br /> make a mistake. They think doubles is what I always wanted to do. That's<br /> not true. Singles was always No. 1.'
Indeed, Zvereva seemed a good bet to eclipse the solo achievements of<br /> Russia's previous best woman player, Olga Morozova, a Top 10 player<br /> during the 1970s and Wimbledon finalist in '74. Zvereva used her versatile<br /> all-court game to win three legs of the junior Grand Slam in 1987. A year<br /> later, as a 17-year-old rookie pro, she defeated Martina Navratilova at the<br /> French Open and, two rounds later, found herself in the final.
'We're talking talent like a John McEnroe or a Martina Hingis,' says<br /> Morozova, a former Russian national team coach who now works for the<br /> British Lawn Tennis Association. 'She could do anything with the ball.'
But after falling victim to both jitters and an overpowering Graf 6-0, 6-0 in 32<br /> minutes (record time for a Grand Slam final) -- a match she claims not to<br /> remember at all -- Zvereva slowly regressed in singles. She has cracked<br /> the Top 10 only once since 1988 and plummeted as low as No. 57 in early<br /> 1997 following an indifferent, injury-plagued 1996.
Part of the problem is that despite her respectable size (5-foot-8, 138<br /> pounds), Zvereva has never developed a big weapon. As a result, she<br /> must grind out matches, something her mind simply won't will her to do. 'I<br /> would like a little more power,' she says, squinting, laughing and holding<br /> her thumb and index finger an inch apart. 'I can't just hit the first or second<br /> ball for a winner. I have to confuse people, which means I always have to<br /> counterpunch. Sometimes it's very frustrating.'
But there's more to it than that. While Zvereva claims to care about singles<br /> results, her actions indicate otherwise: She hasn't had a coach since 1990.<br /> She has done nothing to improve her suspect speed by means of sprint<br /> and drill work. And she admits to losing her concentration during lengthy<br /> singles matches.
'We thought if we crossed the border, life would be easy, that it would<br /> always be sunny and fun,' Morozova says, speaking of both her own career<br /> and Zvereva's. 'But then Natasha saw that it would take even more, and<br /> she wasn't willing to work as hard as she had when she was younger.'
Zvereva agrees with that assessment. 'I have pretty much been coasting,'<br /> she says, without a hint of remorse. 'Putting in more time on the court only<br /> bores me. It doesn't make me better. I start to expect things of myself. I don't<br /> think I can handle it mentally.'
This 'slacker' approach is in large measure a reaction to her<br /> micro-managed youth in the former Soviet Union. Her parents, Marat<br /> Zverev and Nina Zvereva, were both tennis instructors. Early on, Marat, who<br /> coached at the Soviet Army Club, decided that tennis would be his<br /> daughter's passport to freedom. Starting at age 7, Natalia (the name given<br /> to Zvereva by her parents, rather than the name she legally changed it to in<br /> 1994) was pushed toward greatness.
'It was a very hard working environment, hour after hour of tennis and drilling<br /> and matches,' she says, her unblinking brown eyes displaying the<br /> weariness of a gulag survivor.
Zvereva began fighting for her independence from what she terms a<br /> 'repressed' lifestyle at age 18. First, with the encouragement of her father,<br /> she took on the Soviet Sports Committee, which kept the bulk of her 1988<br /> prize money ($361,354), reportedly granting her a mere $1,000 weekly<br /> allowance. In April 1989, following her loss in the final of the Family Circle<br /> Magazine Cup at Hilton Head Island, S.C., Zvereva told a national<br /> television audience that she'd like to keep every nickel of her prize money.
With the Cold War thawing, Soviet authorities could ill afford the public<br /> relations debacle of a star athlete like Zvereva defecting. In the end, she<br /> was allowed to keep both her winnings and her nationality (which, following<br /> the breakup of the USSR into separate nations in 1991, became -- and<br /> remains -- Belarussian).
Then, in 1990, Zvereva declared her freedom from her father by relieving<br /> him of his coaching responsibilities, opting to travel on tour by herself. 'It<br /> was painful for both of us at first,' she says.
Zvereva remains close with her mother (she visits her family in Minsk,<br /> Belarus, four times a year), but she and her father have grown apart in<br /> recent years. 'His life is tennis, tennis, tennis, and that's not me,' she says.
Though Zvereva's lack of motivation has proved a fatal flaw in singles, it<br /> hasn't prevented her from becoming one of the premier doubles players of<br /> this era. Her remarkable reflexes help her finish off points quickly; her sharp<br /> angles enable her to take full advantage of the alleys; and her desire<br /> seems to rise a notch when she's part of a team.
'When others are counting on her, Natasha will never let them down,' says<br /> Morozova.
Adds Davenport, 'She's just the best doubles partner, so supportive,<br /> friendly, fun and smart.'
Before pairing up with Davenport this year, Zvereva won Grand Slam<br /> doubles titles with four other women. She and fellow Russian Neiland (nee<br /> Savchenko) teamed to win the 1989 French Open and 1991 Wimbledon<br /> doubles titles. When the duo parted on friendly terms soon after winning the<br /> latter crown, Zvereva joined with Pam Shriver to win the '91 U.S. Open. But it<br /> was in 1992, when she teamed with Fernandez, that Zvereva found her<br /> perfect doubles partner.
While most legendary duos -- Billie Jean King-Rosie Casals,<br /> Navratilova-Shriver -- were built on the foundation of one great singles<br /> player and a less-gifted accomplice, Zvereva-Fernandez was comprised<br /> of two solo underachievers who ably filled in each other's missing pieces.<br /> Fernandez's clean attacking game, so flighty in singles, became rock-solid<br /> when wed to Zvereva's party-girl mix of chips and dips.
'Neither of them wanted it on their own,' says Dr. Julie Anthony, a former<br /> touring pro and close friend of Fernandez's. 'But they knew how to bring out<br /> the best in each other.'
And sometimes the worst: Their volatile personalities caused periodic<br /> conflicts on and off the court. According to Morozova, 'Gigi wasn't such a<br /> great influence on Natasha -- she could be so tempermental.'
Zvereva and Fernandez attempted a trial separation in early 1997, during<br /> which time Zvereva won the Australian Open doubles title paired with<br /> Martina Hingis. Later that spring, Zvereva and Fernandez decided to take<br /> one more lap around the track together. Their wins at Roland Garros and<br /> Wimbledon upped their Grand Slam victory total to 14 titles in six years.
Fernandez's retirement at year's end terminated their wildly successful<br /> partnership. Oddly, neither member of the duo likes talking about it today.<br /> Fernandez declined to be interviewed for this story. 'Gigi's enjoying her life<br /> away from tennis,' Zvereva explains.
Zvereva is perfunctory in her own analysis of the secret to their success:<br /> 'We had that chemistry.'
Curt answers such as that are representative of Zvereva's policy of not<br /> revealing her true feelings (or much else about her personal life) to<br /> anybody -- not even friends.
'I've never known anyone like her,' Davenport says. 'She's a neat person,<br /> but there are times when I wish I understood her more. She is so<br /> independent. She could go anywhere in the world and be totally<br /> comfortable being alone.'
Neiland describes Zvereva as 'a complex person, her own person.'
Anthony believes Zvereva is 'happier than Monica Seles or Steffi [Graf],'<br /> expressly because she isn't so driven. She adds, though, that 'Maybe when<br /> she gets older and looks back, she'll wonder if she cheated herself out of<br /> the chance to really lay it on the line and go after it.'
But Anthony may be overlooking one important quality about Zvereva: She<br /> has always been one to wake up in the morning and think about 'What is<br /> today?' rather than 'What could have been yesterday?'
'I don't think about the past,' Zvereva says. 'I live my life in the present,<br /> maybe with just a peek into the future.'
She pauses, then sums up the 'fun-first, singles-second' attitude that has<br /> characterized her career: 'You have to want it, and I don't. I'm not playing for<br /> anyone. I'm living my life the way I want.'
BRUCE JENKINS <br /> <br /> Thursday, July 2, 1998
Wimbledon, England -- SHE WANDERS about<br /> the Wimbledon grounds as a transported soul,<br /> longing for some other time, very<br /> grunge-fashionable with her leather coats, offbeat<br /> jewelry and sunglasses. Natasha Zvereva is cool,<br /> above all. She likes the feel of a Harley-Davidson<br /> beneath her and a brisk wind in her face.
It's probably Martina Navratilova's fault that<br /> Zvereva's full story has been pushed aside. It<br /> became a lesser work against Navratilova's epic,<br /> because Martina had it all: The courage, the honesty<br /> and the championships. But now we find Zvereva<br /> on the verge of the Wimbledon finals.
Only a French woman named Nathalie Tauziat<br /> stands in her way after Zvereva's stunning 7-6<br /> (7-4), 6-2 upset of Monica Seles on Court 1<br /> yesterday. Perhaps now, at the peak of her career,<br /> people will clear some dust off the library and recall<br /> what this remarkable Belarussian woman<br /> accomplished so long ago.
She was just 17 years old in 1989, known by her<br /> given name of Natalia, with a gorgeous backhand<br /> and a typically stifled Soviet lifestyle. She would<br /> immerse herself in literature between tournaments,<br /> delving deeply into Chekhov and Tolstoy, imagining<br /> herself a modern-day Anna Karenina.
She favored music from the past -- Hendrix, early<br /> Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple -- and spoke<br /> astonishingly perfect English. Americans were<br /> fascinated by the images of this brooding,<br /> mysterious teenager, having little idea what was<br /> taking place behind the scenes of Russian tennis.
Basically, they were stealing her blind. Although the<br /> Soviet tennis federation funded her equipment and<br /> travel expenses -- she had been a professional since<br /> the age of 14 -- the program took every cent of her<br /> professional paychecks. As the 1989 Family
Circle Cup tournament approached in Hilton Head,<br /> S.C., Zvereva estimated that some $500,000 of her<br /> winnings had been pocketed by the federation.
That is when she unleashed her bombshell. She was<br /> talking to Bud Collins on national television after<br /> losing the final to Steffi Graf, and when officials<br /> handed over her check, she said, ``This $24,000,<br /> it's not money, just a piece of paper.''
Collins, for perhaps the first time in his life, was<br /> speechless. Zvereva was essentially telling Soviet<br /> officials that she was fed up, that she would fight the<br /> system and do everything possible to keep her<br /> hard-earned money.
It was a long, difficult struggle. Natalia had a<br /> formidable ally in her father, Marat, a rebellious<br /> youth from the Stalin era. During World War II -- in<br /> which he lost his own father in battle -- young<br /> Marat would disappear from military school for<br /> months at a time, finally getting expelled at the age<br /> of 15. He had been kicked out of a college in Kiev,<br /> as well, before marrying a former volleyball player<br /> and settling in Minsk as a tennis instructor.
With her father's full support, and Soviet officials<br /> throwing up their hands in outrage, Natalia boldly<br /> signed a lucrative deal with ProServ, the<br /> heavyweight sports management company. The<br /> federation realized it could only control young<br /> Natalia if it could keep her at home, and there was<br /> no chance of that. She moved to the United States,<br /> wore the clothing of a flower-child hippie (``I wish<br /> I'd been here in the '60s''), embraced the capitalist<br /> lifestyle -- and eventually won the fight.
``Natalia is a pioneer in our country, for the tennis<br /> players and for the other athletes,'' says the former<br /> Soviet great Olga Morozova. ``She was the first<br /> one who did it. After Natalia, our athletes no longer<br /> had to send their winnings home.''
The victory seemed quite enough for Natasha, a<br /> name she fancied and took for her own. Navratilova<br /> became tennis' ultimate pioneer, defecting from<br /> Czechoslovakia, breaking down the barriers of<br /> homophobia, winning every big title in sight, but<br /> Natasha just wanted to live. She had an occasional<br /> breakthrough in singles, but doubles and partying<br /> were her greatest passions. Partnering mostly with<br /> Gigi Fernandez, she racked up five Wimbledon<br /> doubles titles and 20 Grand Slam championships<br /> overall.
There is a measure of genius in her game, a<br /> surgeon's touch and a fine mixture of pace. Before<br /> this Wimbledon even started, Seles said, ``Natasha<br /> has the best hands in the game.'' Fellow players<br /> were shocked when she knocked off Steffi Graf in<br /> the third round, but only because she had kept up<br /> her concentration for an entire match. There was<br /> never a question about the talent.
Yesterday, in the sun and refreshing breezes of a<br /> Wimbledon afternoon, Natasha dominated Seles.<br /> She seemed pleasantly frozen at the baseline, a<br /> vision of confidence in wraparound shades, dictating<br /> the entire match from that position as Seles<br /> scrambled wildly about. Lobs, drop shots, slices,<br /> topspin -- it was all there, all perfectly disguised.<br /> ``My performance really bugs me,'' said Seles. ``I<br /> got all uptight with myself and was just all over the<br /> place. But Natasha rose to the occasion. I did not.<br /> She played really smart tennis.''
Zvereva, addressing the media in her accent-free<br /> English, said she had surprised herself -- ``big-time.<br /> I am absolutely thrilled. This is completely<br /> unexpected.'' Now it's the semifinals, when the<br /> world really starts to pay attention. Perhaps some<br /> will remember what happened in the dark ages of<br /> Russian tennis, when a bright young teenager<br /> knocked down the establishment.
Um, what do you mean by 'it isn't hard to lose a match'. Great tennis players lose matches every day.
My perception is that Natasha (like the first article referred to) didn't possess any - modern day - weapons, like a booming groundstroke. Her serve was OK but could go under pressure (like there's a Russian/Belarussian female tennis player this DOESN'T happen to). Fantastic angles, just really audacious shots that she had no right to attempt, let alone pull off.
You could perhaps, if you were not feeling very generous, call her lazy. She didn't chase an awful lot from my recollectons.
She lost more matches than she should have done, to players she shouldn't have been losing to because (this is my own theory), winning for her brought more trouble than playing great tennis, having fun and maybe getting to the quarters of GS'. I think she once said (it might be in one of the interview sk posted) that her ideal ranking would be something like #10. To me that sums it up about where winning tennis matches came in her overall priorities.
'You have to want it, and I don't. I'm not playing for anyone. I'm living my life the way I want.'
I think that pretty much sums up why she didn't win more in singles!
Basically, she preferred to enjoy herself on court and not overtax herself in training. If she'd played up to her full potential she'd have won Roland Garros at least twice, and Wimbledon & the Australian Open at least once. But, with Natasha you always got the feeling that it wasn't so much that her nerves let her down as that she actively _chose_ not to concentrate or focus on singles matches. Which is why in some ways it's less of a tragedy that she didn't do so well in singles. As she says, she lives her life as she wants to. <br /> <img src="cool.gif" border="0">
sk: I don't want to labour a point, but I think that the reason why she chose not to focus, was because if she did she would crack, and that's the pressure she didn't want to put herself under.
The Wimbledon semi for me is case in point. She didn't want to get to the final, because that would be too much like raking up RG. Even if she tried not to think about it, eveybody would be sure to mention it. I think she even went on record saying, not that she was scared, but certainly apprehensive about getting to another GS final.
Not sure if that's what you've just said or not. <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
Whatever, watching her doubles matches with Gigi (particularly) has given me enormous pleasure over the years.
i thought she was going to take the second set tiebreak against Nathalie but it was not be as the match slowly and surely swung to Nathalie's favor...
but i guess Natasha's sudden will to win in her semi against Amanda [6-7 7-6 10-8!!!] at Eastbourne the following year
as well as coming back from losing the first nine games [!] to take the Eastbourne SINGLES title against Nathalie [sweet...] 0-6 -7-5 6-3 was a slight comfort... <img src="cool.gif" border="0"> <img src="cool.gif" border="0"> <img src="cool.gif" border="0">
If you never have seen her in action, visit <a href="http://surf.to/zvereva" target="_blank">http://surf.to/zvereva</a> and get some tapes. <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
<br />btw, I have see her play live many matches, from 1999 till now, I don't see her do much else then the rest. <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0"> but I have some dubs matches from the midt 90' where she played great.
---<br />Hi gorecki, long time - no see... <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
yeah, I see what you're saying. But I think that she could have handled the pressure if she'd really wanted to. Having had a taste of what it was like to be one of the top singles players (1988ish) I think she just decided that she didn't like the pressure. Not so much that she couldn't handle it as that she just plain didn't enjoy that kind of stress. I think that a lot of it has to do with the way in which Soviet athletes were trained. She had to work so ridiculously hard for so little reward as a child/girl that she lost her appetite for success. She knew what kind of sacrifices would be necessary for her to become a GS singles champion and decided not to make them.
That's what I think anyway, but the fact is that because Natasha chose not to concentrate on her singles career we'll never know whether she could have handled the pressure or not.
And in many ways, what I love about Natasha is the carefree happy way that she played tennis in contrast to the cooler calmer champions. She says she doesn't have regrets, so I guess we shouldn't either.