5 Responses

  1. Jason
    Jason September 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

    One player was getting free points with the serve almost at-will: the other was not. Seems…straightforward?

  2. Karen
    Karen September 2, 2013 at 7:36 am |

    Juan, very nice write up. One thing that you failed to mention, and which I really kept my eye on was the pace and speed of the serve. Sloane was hitting her serves at 117/119 and most of her first serves were over 100 mph. Serena on the other hand was throwing in serves at an average speed of 107. It was in the latter stages of the match that she brought out the big guns, i.e. the 120 mphs. That being said, I think Serena’s serves were just accurately placed. In addition Serena’s court sense really worked to her advantage. She knew where the ball was going to be on the next shot and it was hard for Sloane to really get the advantage once the rallies started.

    I have to say that at 31 years young, Serena is moving like she has never moved before. She looked fantastic on clay, but she has really taken that movement to the hard courts and has done tremendously well with it. She was able to expose Sloane’s weaknesses, i.e. her lazy/poor footwork, especially on the backhand side. Once Sloane started to resort to moonballing instead of hitting the ball, I knew Serena would win the match.

    I have been watching Sloane play for a long time now and the lazy footwork has been there for as long as I have watched her play. You would think that the USTA or her coaches would have found someone to teach her foot drills or something. Lazy and/or poor footwork was something that Serena suffered throughout most of her career, but these days, it is clear that she has been doing foot drills because when she is on the baseline you can see her mentally telling herself to move her feet.

  3. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 2, 2013 at 11:28 am |

    I looked up Serena’s first serve success against Sloane in the match at the AO. On that day the Fierce Queen won only 67% of her first serve points, well below her average (77.8% in 2012 and 74.5% in 2013 for FSPW). Sloane also broke Serena five times in that match, all in the second and third sets. Serena also had only 4 aces that day, in a long 3-set match. As foolish as it may seem to be overconfident against the world’s #1, I think that Sloane may have been somewhat misled by her success against Serena’s first serve at Melbourne. Whether because of injury (ankle & back) or nerves, that was one of Serena’s poorest serving days this year.

    Serena didn’t have much success at Melbourne on break points (1 of 5), and she didn’t have much success in the first set yesterday either (2 of 8). Probably a combination of Serena’s overanxiety and Stephens’ commendable fighting spirit.

    All in all, a very good performance by Serena against a very tough opponent. I’m betting that barring injury, Sloane will be in the top 5 by the French Open 2014, maybe sooner. She’s so much quicker and faster than the power players (Sharapova, Kvitova, Stosur, Ivanovic, and she hits so much harder than the finesse players (Radwanska, Errani, Kerber, Wozniacki, Jankovic). Athletically, she’s right up there with Azarenka and Li.

    Does Sloane say and do some dumb things and make some strategic and tactical errors? Sure. But so did Azarenka three or four years ago, and look where she is now.

    The one thing that might hold her book is a certain juvenile shallowness. She may be quite content with making $2.5 – $3 million or so a year as a top 10 or top 15 player. It will take a lot of work and not a little personal growth to eventually make it to the top three. But there’s nothing to keep her from doing that except herself. She has a once in a generation talent for the game.

  4. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 2, 2013 at 11:30 am |

    In last paragraph above, I meant to type, “The one thing that might hold her back”

  5. Seipherd
    Seipherd September 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

    IMHO, Sloan’s game seems to be modeled after Sharapova, which while successful, has limits.

    If there is anything woman’s tennis in general can learn from the top men, is bring in the modern dimension of spin into their game technique and strategy. Nadal’s success on hard and clay is directly related to his ability to go from a massive topspin, to heavy cut, to regular topspin, to flat almost at whim during a rally.

    A big part of Nadal’s current rally strategy isn’t rocket science — just reurn the ball down the same line it came to you, only with more or less power and spin to make it difficult for the opponent to do much with. Nadal is really at home when the line starts and ends in the opponents ad court corner, but he can do it elsewhere. Repeat until the opponent makes an error or hits something you can take advantage of — which also means you have to be comfy moving up for half or full volleys when the opportunity is offered.

    This relatively simple strategy of course assumes you’ve got the full spectrum of spins and power necessary to keep your opponent at bay — if you fail to make the shot tough enough, they’ll crush a (direction change) return and point over. There are currently no women who reuglarly show competence with this full but simple set of spin and power tools — however several women show an understanding of the strategy, using their limited set of tools.

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