Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Miami: News and Views


1) Murray has officially parted ways with Corretja and is, one assumes, on the look out for a new coach. “Open to new opportunities”, or however it’s being framed. 

Lendl’s name has been in the mix for a few days. Some of the reaction to this has been as outrageous as it is predictable, with SKY viewers yesterday emailing alternatives ranging from JMac to Martina Navratilova to Maclaghan again…

No one explicitly dissed Lendl, but it’s very clear who they DON’T want.

Never mind that none of those other suggestions have put themselves forward.

Never mind that Lendl is an 8 time Slam winning former world #1 who might, you know, know a little something about success on tour.

I’m not saying it struck me as the obvious choice either (both are strong willed, though that might be EXACTLY what Murray needs), but it seems to me it ought at least to be tried before being so routinely dismissed.  Stranger things have happened.

My own somewhat cynical suspicion is that a legacy of dislike continues to pervade Lendl’s public persona – he certainly wasn’t out to win any popularity contests during his career. I’m still waiting to hear why that should have ANY bearing on his suitability as a coach.

Whatever the case, the truth is Muzz very likely represents GB’s best chance of winning a Slam for many years to come. Perhaps even decades. I hardly need to remind you that the next highest ranked Brit is James Ward at #213 – and this is actually better than things have ever been.

To be blunt about it, beggars can’t be choosy. And you could do a LOT worse than Lendl. Let us hope he doesn’t reconsider.

2) A few further things need to be said about Petko’s win over Caro. 

The first is that however well Petko played (and don’t let anyone tell you she didn’t), she simply wasn’t facing the Caro that has dominated the tour outside of the Slams, and that people so enjoy poking fun at.

Anyone that claims otherwise needs to explain away the whopping 52 UFEs from Caro that equates to over a hundred from anyone else. Good luck with that.

The second, is that this is a relatively new experience for Caro and one from which she’ll likely benefit. It brought home in the most stark way imaginable that she might be just as prone as any other top player to a bad day at the office.

I doubt it’ll cause her to substantially alter her game, but if it results in a few new wrinkles it will have been worth the pain.

The third, is that this anguish resulted in the emergence of a new shouty, screechy Caro that I’ve actually become rather fond of.

I doubt she’ll be around very much. Yesterday is likely to remain her finest “big screen” moment – expect her to fade away into a less-distinguished daytime TV career.

And finally, I’m still not a fan of Petko. Not at least in the way some people are. (I’m not wholly convinced by her game either – but there’s still time to improve upon that)


I realise that puts me very much in the minority. Fine by me.

I’ll certainly concede that she’s #goodfortennis, though I’ll hope you’ll give me leave not to succumb to the hopeless strain of infatuation that lead to en-masse Petko mini-raves after her win yesterday.

Word soon after was that she’s “bored” of the Petko dance and is looking for a new “thing”.  I was bored of it too – and pretty soon after the initial novelty wore off. She seems to me to be talented enough and charismatic enough to be above gimmicks like that.

And as far as a new “thing” is concerned, here’s a somewhat wacky idea: her new thing could be, you know, not having one.


3) Delpo’s 63 62 win over Sod was perhaps the greatest sign yet that he’s steadily progressing towards the top ten if not the top five in the not too distant future. You could infer all of that on the basis of the serve alone. It was also the most beleaguered form of underperformance I’ve seen from Sod in a long time. 

I’ve seen Sod play badly before: I’ve seen him thrown off balance, having trouble with the elements, and leaking UFEs of nearly every shade. I’ve not, however, seen him shank this many balls in a single match – say what you will about him, but that’s just not his style.

At the end of the match the stats showed that both men hit only 18 winners apiece. Two of the heaviest ball strikers of this generation only managed to conjure up 36 winners between them.

That tells me Delpo, despite being in his element, felt he didn’t need to hit many winners. And that Sod simply couldn’t.

None of this is to suggest that Delpo isn’t progressing entirely steadily and appropriately – it just could have been a very different match.

4) Pova’s win over Sam said more to me about where Sam is than it did about Pova.

Like Delpo, Pova got through doing exactly what she needed to, and not an iota more. Why would she?

The serve is still not under control, but really, neither was Sam’s. More worryingly, she wasn’t able to convincingly get Pova off balance the way her game is custom built to. and to which Pova is uniquely vulnerable to.

When she did manage to, it all had a laboured feel to it that speaks to me of a player struggling to cope.

And that kick serve we’re all so fond of musing over? The stats showed that Sam served only marginally better than Pova. That’s not a comparison anyone should be flattered by. 


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