Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Heart of a Champion

by Savannah

Tennis is life. That's what we tennisheads love to say about our sport. As in life the best players on the tennis court will come face to face with a person across the net who is playing above their level. With that realization the questions start.Is it because that person has nothing to lose that I'm in this situation? Is it because they've found some unknown weakness in our psyche that we're not aware of? Have I lost the will to win? Does it matter what I've accomplished in the past if I lose to this person?

Some look inward and decide it does matter, that it means just as much to them to win the match they're playing as it does to win the Wimbledon, US Open or Australian final. Others are unable to find the will power and fire or shy away from it in fear.

Listening to Serena at her presser admit she was feeling pressure and admitting that nothing else mattered but winning the match was enlightening to say the least. How many Slams does she have? How many matches has she won? And all she cared about was winning today's match.

She is American and like American players of her generation clay is not and will never be her surface. But none of that mattered. She managed to slide into the shot today. Despite the brace on her lower thigh she ran and got to shots she could've let go.

That is why she, her sister Venus Williams and Andy Roddick are the only Americans that can be said to have a chance in Paris. No one is picking any of those three to win. But they will try. Roddick has gone as far as to change his game to try and keep himself in the conversation on the men's side. I listened to the talking heads on ESPN this afternoon and was surprised that they're so surprised that modern players continuously tinker with their game to try and make it better. As in life, one must adapt or be left by the wayside. It's a life lesson some learn better than others.


sG said...

It was a down and dirty win by Serena today. Her strange passivity during matchpoints worried me some, but she fought her way through. Sometimes a good fight is what you need to know you're there, that you can fight through the next round and the next. That she and Venus picked up racquets again for doubles later in the evening is... well, I'm a bit struck but in a good way. Fading light interrupted their play but I was encouraged by what I saw.

Andy has frustrated me in recent years with his tinkering because I think he can tinker too much. Every new coach has a new perspective which is great, but Andy seems to subsume his entire game for that new perspective shucking the good along with the bad. Then, whenever he's stuck or losing, he falls back on every bad habit or strategy he ever picked up during their tenure. This new coach though, seems to be a very good fit. I don't think we'll see the same 'doing great for a month thing, then a drop off' now. They fit well and the tactics and strategies, the way he's encouraged Andy to think out there has been very, well, encouraging. I've been impressed by how he's played, although he still gets headcase-y around Federer. I still don't think he gets passed Djokovic or Federer, whomever is in his quarter, but I'd feel comfortable betting money he goes deep.

lynney62 said...

Serena was a true force of pure will and belief today! I loved it!

Karen said...

Savannah, so true. I watched her match last night on TC and I have to say that I was very impressed with her fight and her ability to battle out there. What I saw was the Serena of old. She put everything behind her. During the tie-break I could already see her focus heading into the third set. It was the first time I was seeing Klara and while she has a good BHDTL, I think Serena's desperation more than anything else helped her to gain confidence as the match progressed. Winning is well and truly a habit and if you start losing matches, then you do get into the habit of losing. As such, it was essential for Serena to win that match as it reminded her of the joys of winning and the fact that she is Serena Williams and as such should be winning this particular match. Great write up by the way.

Craig Hickman said...

I love this entry, Savannah.