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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Catchy title huh? Too bad the thread is about the next Hingis.

Just kidding.:)

Jelena Dokic and Daniela Hantuchova have seen unanticipated reversals-of-fortune this year. While the two cases have been much examined, it occurs to me that there's a more general explanation. As much as anything, IMHO, this is the result of the predominace of power players at the top of the rankings.

Crudely defined, the baseline power game has two facets. Pace on offense, lateral footspeed for defense. The last five years, Hingis aside (see, the thread IS about her, sort of), has been a relentless movement toward the baseline power game. Which means the whole tour has had a LOT of practice learning how to play AGAINST that style.

So now the baseline power players who are not quite as powerful, and/or not quite as fast, are experiencing far less success. Let's recall, the #100 player is one of the 100 best in the WORLD in their field. Emelie Loit is the quintessential example. She can give the best of the power players fits. Which brings us back around to Dani and Jelena. I'm suure some of their problems are personal to them. But both are slightly under-powered, and and slightly slow.

'Slightly underpowered'. 'Slightly slow'. Ha. What I mean is they are a step slower than the fast players, ie Venus or Justine, and a little less powerful than the really powerful, like Lindsay. They're both way faster than slow players, and way more pwoerful than 'finesse' players. But the tour adjusts. Adjusting to Martina Hingis got us where we are now. Adjucting to the baseline power game will bring on the new 'finesse, all court, power player'. Or some such.

Basically, what's happening to Dani and Jelena is that the peleton is catching up with the tail end riders of the breakaway. The peleton ALWAYS catches up, sooner or later. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but it always does. No style, no player(s) dominate forever. Players either diversify their games, or wind up on the 'Meghann Shaughnessy Carousel', their ranking cycling between #30 and #10.

But for those who hate power tennis, the death of your bane is, if not at hand, at least concievable.
 

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the tour adjusts? i think the line of thinking your going in to is looking in to things too far.

daniella and jelena are just head-cases at the moment. if youve seen them play this year in important matches (dani at french and wimby, jelena at us open vs pierce...etc) you'll notice that they are losing not due to the nature of their game but mentalitly.

which is why it is a shame....i wouldnt say they are pure power plays either eg daniella is a very competent volleyer and mixes up her serve quite well
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
SM said:
I wouldnt say they are pure power plays either eg daniella is a very competent volleyer and mixes up her serve quite well
Dani is EFFECTIVELY a pure basline power player. Dani's volleying sklills don't sevre her because she hasn't a clue how to get from the baseline to net if her opponent doesn't give her a short ball. (Like 95% of the rest of the tour). She hasn't got any junk.

Fyndh0rnElf said:
And Hantuchova is hardly a baseline power player. She does come to the net quite often, and doesn't hit with that much power
She doesn't get to net against anyone with consistent pace and depth. And these days, there are quite a few players like that.
 

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I tend to agree with you Volcana,

Of course both are having a lot of mental struggles, and can do better than what they are achieving at this moment. They are better players than what their results show, but when you look at them in comparison to Jennifer, Venus, Serena, Kim, Justine, and even Amelie and Lindsay, they are just a level below unless they are hitting their groundstrokes to near perfection so that they aren't getting put on the defense. Daniela's footspeed does not compare with most of the top girls, and while she is fit, she just doesn't have that aspect, and it is very much exposed now. Her groundstrokes need to be very sharp for her to have a shot at beating them, and right now those are very inconsistent too.

Dokic is probably quite even on the movement scale, sometimes she seems faster to me than Hantuchova, sometimes around same so maybe just depends on how much effort she looks to be giving. I also think she has move weight on her groundstrokes than Daniela, but her game is not as smooth, a lot of technical hitches, and I always get the feeling there are more aspects in her game that are liable to fall apart at any given time (most noticeably is the serve, but the groundstrokes can pile up the errors out of nowhere too).

So while I think Dokic and Hantuchova can be amongst the best, I can't see either of them consistently being up at the very top with the best 5 or so unless their defensive skills improve considerably, or they are able to really work on having consistently lethal offense like Davenport.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
wtarules said:
Wasn't Daniela Hantuchová more of an all-courter in 2002 and then became more of a base-liner in 2003?
2001 rather than 2002, but That's what I thought I saw too. But maybe that was the tour learning how to play her. Why would anyone with an effective net game start voluntarily staying back?
 

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I think she has been trying to work on her net game, but her serve isn't big enough and placed well enough to get easy volley put aways consistently, she's not quick enough getting in for the first volley meaning she is either hitting low volleys that get her out of position or giving the opponent sitters, or she is trying to hit half-volleys. The only way for Daniela to effectively get into net is by hitting a good groundstroke that will give her a shorter ball to put away (which she usually does with a swinging volley, not a conventional one anyway). Her overhead is also not the greatest, doesn't do enough with it most of the time.
 

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Let's face it, Daniela and Jelena are mediocre players, who have had some good wins, but are not the kind of players who will ever get to the top of tennis during their careers. Every generation has these kind of players. Back in the Margaret Court/Billie Jean King era, there were terrific players like Rosie Casals and Virginia Wade, who were consistently in that second-tier of players on the world tour. They broke through many times to win tournaments, and Wade actually won the Australian (without King or Court in the draw), and also broke through at Wimbledon in 1977, but throughout most of their career, there were anywhere from 1-3 players ahead of them in talent and competitive drive.

It's okay for Daniela and Jelena to be where they are. Neither of them will ever be #1. Let's hope they break through with a few more great wins before they hang their racquets up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Jelena and Dani both have the talent to win a GS, but maybe even two. I'm saying they're Majoli-in-her-prime level players. Maybe even Mary Paierce. Catch a good draw, on the right surface, and play your best tennis in the semis and finals. You too can win a GS title.

Putting aside the more established players, and getting back to matters of style, who among our new top 30 players has the power and variety necessary to be a long term GS threat? I think Kuznetsova may surprise here, because she's spending all that time with Martina. Slickness could result.
 

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Volcana said:
Jelena and Dani both have the talent to win a GS, but maybe even two. I'm saying they're Majoli-in-her-prime level players. Maybe even Mary Paierce. Catch a good draw, on the right surface, and play your best tennis in the semis and finals. You too can win a GS title.

Putting aside the more established players, and getting back to maters of style, who among our new top 30 players has the power and variety necessary to be a long term GS threat. I think Kuznetsova may surprise here, because she's spending all that time with Martina. Slickness could result.
From what I have seen of Maria Sharapova, she has alot of potential, and alot to learn. She alreayd has a huge serve, which will only get better, and moves very well for a tall, thin girl (better than Hantuchova, for example), and she seems very gritty and hungry- always a good sign. I think in a few years, if she keeps improving, she may be contending for majors on a regular basis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Monsters said:
so you mean Venus is gonna die soon...:eek:
Well, that certainly makes the list of finalists for 'Tasteless Comment of the Year'.
 

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Dokic and Hantuchova hit pretty flat and don't like to employ variety in their groundstrokes.

Their movement is also suspect, especially Daniela's.

I think both girls are talented and when playing well, definitely regular Top 10 players. But its just hitting the ball flat all the time that isn't helping them.

For example, Elena D was very similar to them, hitting her shots fairly flat and not employing much variety to her game. This year, after watching her play, I've seen a definite step forward. Even Bob Larson commented on the improvement in variety in Elena's ground game.

When Jelena and Daniela can hit offensive topspin/flat/slice balls is when they can gain an edge again, as well gaining consistency.

Too many of the other girls have worked out their games and see that it is pretty much up and down tennis, just hit the ball hard and thats pretty much it.
 

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when i went to the us open this year, i saw hantuchova and in her match against... valuenko or soemthing... so just looked lost... after she took the first set 6-0, it was like she got lazy and stopped running for the ball --- i think hantuchova has the offensive, but when it comes to defensive she definatly needs to work on that

that and mental confidence, she was so scared to let her backhand rip down the line for a winner, instead she'd hit with topspin and wait

dokic is just completly in a slump lets just leave that at that
 
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