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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In another thread, the fact that Anna's biggest weakness is her mental strength is being discussed in great detail. My question is this: What has changed with her since her days of being the number one junior in the world, a Wimbledon semi-finalist, and the youngest player ever to beat four top ten players in a row (at the Lipton in 1998)? Obviously, Anna is not the same player mentally that she was 4 or 5 years ago. She was almost unbeatable as a junior at one time, and went into her professional career absolutely fearless. She was arguably a better player then than she is now. Many people have pointed out that she was never the same after injuring her thumb in 1998 against Steffi at Eastbourne. Looking at her results since then, it is hard to disagree with that assessment. I just don't understand why this would be. Is it really possible that a minor thumb injury (it only kept her out for about a month) could have completely halted the wonderful progress she was making? It seems almost unbelievable, yet there is not mistaking that everything was different after that. I am wondering what all of your ideas are as to why this relatively small injury that took place almost four years ago seemed to have such an effect on Anna mentally.
 

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I too think that a lot of her problems sprung from that thumb injury. It was probably an insignificant injury - physically speaking - compared to the stress fracture she suffered but it certainly had lasting effects.

I think firstly it affected something with her serve and/or her confidence, i'm just not sure which is the cause and effect. Definitely the more her serve got worse as time went on, her psyche and her confidence was affected. The peak of her problems was later that year when she was starting to amass 20 double faults on average per match and then because it continued through to the first slam of 1999, the media got onto it and she was the centre of such undeserved ridicule by some fellow players and by the media alike.

I haven't seen her play a match since the Australian Open of 2001 so I can't really comment on her game but by the looks of things she is starting to get her game and her head together again. I think a big reason Anna is doing well now is because she is playing as a hunter - with her ranking in the 80's, Anna is playing, and beating, a lot of players ranked higher than her in these fields and is probably taking a "nothing to lose" attitude in her matches which I think has always served her well. Playing in pressure situations historically does not seem to serve her as well.

I think Anna is too talented not to eventually get her ranking into that 11-15 range in good time, and possibly even the top 10. Although I do think that the current Top 10 is a very strong top 10 and a very accurate reflection of the game today at that level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Juggler, I have to disagree that the Anna of February of last year would beat the Anna of the Lipton '98 by that big of a margin. Skills wise, perhaps. Mentally, no way. Anna was much stronger mentally four years ago than she was last year. Anna is my absolute favorite player, but I have to be realistic: I do not think Anna would have been able to beat Monica, Lindsay, Aranxta, and Conchita (I think that was the fourth player, I apologize if I am wrong) all in a row in February of 2001. She couldn't beat one of them (Lindsay at the Aussie Open of last year) so I do not think mentally she could have beaten all four like she did in '98. As far as skills go, she is a better player now. Mentally, she has a ways to go before she gets back to March of '98.
 

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I think till 98 Anna was seen as the future star in the tennisgame, then she injured her thumb and the doubles faults started and suddenly she was the clown of the tennisworld( according to some a lot of people) and I think that must have hurt her and I think that maybe then she started to believe too that she was more a more a model then a future number 1 or at least a top 5 player!
 

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She was arguably a better player then than she is now. Many people have pointed out that she was never the same after injuring her thumb in 1998 against Steffi at Eastbourne. Looking at her results since then, it is hard to disagree with that assessment. I just don't understand why this would be. Is it really possible that a minor thumb injury (it only kept her out for about a month) could have completely halted the wonderful progress she was making? It seems almost unbelievable, yet there is not mistaking that everything was different after that. I am wondering what all of your ideas are as to why this relatively small injury that took place almost four years ago seemed to have such an effect on Anna mentally.
i think it wasn't really the gravity of the injury (it kept her out but not as long as her stress fracture last year) that hindered anna's progress so much
but the timing of it all. anna was doing so well in 1998 and even up to the moment before she had to pull out in the next round eastbourne, she still got a great win over graf
...

it seems anna suffers these injuries just when her game's improving and when she's getting to the top of the rankings. real unfortunate,
but it's part of the game...

she missed wimbledon, where she was looking forward to getting far into the championships like the year before. grass is anna's best surface. a pity, cos she would have had a strong run had she not gotten that thumb injury.

the 2 months lay-off in 1998 didn't really help, with alla being a slave driver, making anna practice with her left hand. so by the time anna's right thumb was healed, she was so fatigued from what should have been her recovery time that she didn't play well at all.

then came the double faults that carried over to australia. pavel slozil couldn't help anna with her serving troubles. (anna's serve suffers when she's coming back from a lay-off...and boy does it take a long time for her to get it back:rolleyes: ....)by this time anna must have been so disappointed with how things were going, compared to how great things were before the injury.

and by this time everyone who saw anna's run up to the lipton championships and even eastbourne 98 expected anna to have strong results in slams and win titles in 99. when the titles didn't start coming (even though she made the 4th round of each slam), the whole attention about the "no title" thing got worse.

since then anna's had to deal with it and i believe it takes a toll on her, not having a singles title yet, even if she doesn't say it does. and the coming of new and younger players(who won titles before anna) contributed to the notion that anna's too overhyped as to what she has accomplished (singles results-wise) and also there were also the off-court stuff that was part of anna's life by this time.

hmmm...i seem to have rambled on and on...sorry
...
i think though that anna has improved some of her shots since 98. but what should have been a "fearless, go-fot-it" mental edge has turned into one of the major weaknesses in her game
...
 

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IMHO, the thumb isn't the problem. In many ways, the problem was Martina Hingis. Thing is, Hingis EMBARRASSED people from 1997 - 1999. Just made them look incompetent as she beat them. All the elite players got better mentally. They had to. Anna plays a relatively simple game of tennis. And the smarter player have, as Serena Williams put it, 'figured out her game'. Anna plays the same way she did in 1998. That IS the problem.
 

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we were just saying that the thumb injury contributed to anna's problem. and anna's just stuck in her mental game now. however, had she not gotten injured i don't think this would be so much as a weakness for her as it is now. yes martina gave players a hell of a time in their matches. and others have worked it out. i believe somday anna will solve this problem too. exactly how i don't know. but if she doesn't then each tournament will be frustrating for her. sigh....get a coach to help you with your game anna...
 

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You really wanna lock her up on a desert island with BJK and Martina Nav for a year, so she could learn how the game is played.
 

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believe me she knows how the game is played, she actually has a very good "tennis brain". its putting it into practice which is the problem.

if anna reminded herself right before the start of the match the way to play, she could do it for a game or 2. she could even look like hingis for that moment. the problem is she cannot sustain it. she losses confidence really quickly (is never a gradual process with anna) and falls back into bad old habits, where the brain seizes and she basically just doesnt think.

how she fixes this who knows. but is something she has to do herself.
 
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