Thursday, 20 August 2009

Bison Stampede on the Plains of the Serengeti

This is not the first time I've heard this.

With a proliferation of abbreviated service motions on tour recently, I sometimes question how much of it is a knee-jerk reaction prompted by the need to be seen to be doing something different, and how much is the result of diligent biomechanical research.

(Photo: AP)

I've heard mixed views on shortened takebacks. Conventional wisdom says it's driven by the need to reduce shoulder strain. But it's critics argue that the over compensation sometimes required to muscle the ball over the net in the latter half of the motion, actually attracts a greater risk of injury over the longer term.

I have to say though, that not every shortened takeback ought to be likened to Andy Roddick's service motion, nor was it the first thing that came to mind when I reexamined
Shaza's serve today, although there are some similarities.

My view on Roddick's service motion is that it should be viewed in the same way you might admire a herd of elephants in the Serengeti: safely from a distance and with some awe - not used as a template for advancing your own technique.

As for Shaza's 'atrocious' motion, it's true that without her old serve, she's a fraction of the player that won those three Slam Titles. But is it not just a teensy-bit unfair to set the tone for the remainder of her career on the basis of what's transpired in just three months, and what is after all a work in progress?


Federer battled past Ferrer yesterday ... eventually. With Ferrer being one of the founding members of the 'eight-and-oh' club, and with him still nursing those knee complaints, I was expecting this to be over in straights.

I saw parts of the match, and couldn't understand why it was taking so long, nor what Ferrer was doing differently, if anything.

Turns out I was right first time, for Ferrer never really does anything differently, and simply adjusted better to the windy conditions.

That probably means Federer's still a little limp going into the quarters. Which should be of some concern to his fanbase, as this might be the first week on tour, since prior to the French Open that he's had to take on both Muzz and one of Rafa/Djoko back to back.

That'll do away with my tennis apathy quite nicely thanks.

Things are hotting up on the womens tour too. I always thought that Clijsters' reintroduction would throw the cat amongst the pigeons; I did not however expect the bison stampede that's seen many failing causes falling over each other in an effort to shape up.

-- Serena has reached the quarters of a Premier for the first time since records in my memory-banks began. Ok that was a slight exaggeration. But seriously now, was it not Venus wearing the 'Premier' hat up until this week? I haven't seen a single match of Serena's, and intend to keep it that way, at least until she takes on Dementieva in the semis, assuming Elena makes it past Stosur. If they can both put on a repeat of the Wimbledon Semis, apathy will have all but been swept away. And if Serena can somehow win this event, almost all will have been forgiven.

-- You know what else has been good about Kims comeback? How she's had to suffer the odd loss to the players we really ought to consider the tour's top performers. Dinara
may be on the slide, but there was something almost righteous and ordered about her win over Kim last week. And if Jelena's managed to rediscover her form at Kim's expense, you'll not find me complaining much either. That said, if anyone was still nursing any doubts about the legitimacy of Kim's comeback, have another look at the way in which she dismantled Azarenka. The one early round ladies match I did manage to catch, and more than glad I did. A harmonious symmetry of an exhibition on both the absorption and injection of pace against perhaps the tour's most intense game face.

-- Meanwhile the Sharapova comeback continues, more or less unabated. I don't want to get into questions about 'where she is'. That discussion is as stale as it is meaningless. But it's very 2007 to have Jelena, Elena, Shaza and Serena contesting quarter finals once again.
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