5 Eylül 2010 Pazar

Ana Hakkında Güzel Bir Yazı

"I've really enjoyed watching Ana Ivanovic's wins in the opening rounds of the US Open.

Knowing how much the young Serb has struggled lately, I'm sure she's deeply enjoying the rediscovery of the style of play that previously led her to the number one ranking spot.

But we mustn't get too enthusiastic too soon. Ana is still recovering; she's got a long way to go, considering how much her game has suffered over the past couple of years.

Two years of doubts have seen her fall from number one to 80 in the rankings.

But, more than that, it was the loss of her automatic game and confidence that led to huge pressure upon her which inhibited her ability to think clearly.

Because of that she made the wrong choices. Fear is a bad advisor: it makes you search for miracles, think short-term and wait for the magic wand of a coach.

Ana has switched coaches many times in those past few years. And the results each time have been considered disappointing.

However a player should be looking at their whole potential on a long-term basis. She needed building back up from scratch, but was not calm enough and so desperately sought someone who could solve her issues quickly.

Each coach comes with a project, with technical viewpoints and with a different speech to the last one. Ana has tried to adjust some things and as a result lost a bit more of what made her the player she was.

And she arrived at a dead end.

But then she started to work with Heinz Gunthardt, a decision that allowed her to start rediscovering her game.

This coach has the huge advantage of having worked for years with the great Steffi Graf. He has nothing more to prove - and so can share his confidence with the Serb.

On top of that Ana's style of play is fairly similar to the German champion and Heinz will use it in order to help Ana find a way to get the best out of her abilities.

Ivanovic has built her game around a big serve, a strong forehand hit at its maximum and footwork that allows her to turn around her backhand. But when doubts came into her game, she lost all her weapons.

Gunthardt's first task has been to help her trust her serve again. And we can see that so far at Flushing Meadows - it's working pretty well. She's getting more first serves in and at a sufficient speed to collect many winners and aces. And, more importantly, that serve gives her the chance to be aggressive as soon as the second shot.

The only issue remaining on serve is her toss, which is still really unsteady and each time she has to adjust.

Furthermore, Ana urgently needs perfect footwork: if she can become punchy on the first two steps she can turn around her backhand to use a forehand. When she's playing it in that position, this shot becomes even more efficient, exactly like Steffi at her best.

Her forehand remains her biggest strength. These past two years, it wasn't hurting opponents as before and Ana was making many unforced errors on this side. She needed to loosen a bit on the motion so she could hit the ball more cleanly. Once this work is done, Ana can hit as hard as she wants to.

Her backhand has always been the weak part of her game. She doesn't really trust that shot because she lacks feeling and timing. She often plays open-stance backhands, with body weight backwards and then she uses her torso turn more than her racquet to give speed to the ball, and that explains the lack of feeling.

Rather than starting complicated technical work on this problem, it has obviously been decided to work on the strategy. Ana is now using the court way better with this shot so she makes her opponent play in a zone where she can then turn on her forehand.

You work daily to put your game into shape but in competition it doesn't always work, because with the pressure shots in development can disappear. And then one day when you're totally not waiting for it, everything falls into place.

In Cincinnati, Ana did battle with Azarenka. She was a set and a break down and didn't seem to have any solution. And then came the miracle: she won the second set in a tiebreak and her game came together again.

The following matches have confirmed it because she went to the semi-final in Cincy and now in New York she's made a really strong start. She's played three great matches and is obviously taking pleasure in playing.

She'll now play against defending champion Kim Clijsters in the fourth round, a match where she'll have absolutely nothing to lose."

Patrick Mouratoglou

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