Saturday, June 10, 2017

Simona Halep in the Final of Roland Garros 2017


Hello, everyone,

Simona Halep's push for Grand Slams and #1 - and I am convinced she has the talent and the shots for all, but she is not training the required variety, simply not preparing properly, to speak openly - has been unfortunately undermined, hamstrung, by years of less-than-optimal development and strategic perspective, and this continues to this day, for in spite of an admirable effort in today's final of Roland Garros 2017 she came again short against a power player.

Today, and as usual, Simona fed Ostapenko a steady diet of topspin balls, exactly what Ostapenko likes. Even more, until too late, she allowed her opponent the initiative in terms of taking the ball on the rise, she staying too far back. Hello?

Today, Simona didn't have variety: no slice. That could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello?

Today Simona did not take the initiative at the net, by attempting only rarely to come there. Again, that could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello? Yes, I know she was (to some extent) injured, but those extended and repeated left-right baseline runs were even more taxing.

Today, Simona did not really use effectively the dropshots. Hello? 


Today, Simona's serve was only slightly better than at the beginning of the year, but not to the extent she is capable of. Think about it: Henin at a comparable height had 117 mph, Simona 108. But Henin had a full shoulder-torso-body rotation, brought about by using Sampras's and Federer's platform stance (not the pinpoint stance, used by Halep), just like - surprise, surprise - Bethanie Mattek-Sands (again, same height), the current #1 in doubles, who served 117 mph at this very Roland Garros. Federer's stance also imparts much more work on the ball, making it more difficult to return, and higher trajectory, for more safety.
And Darren Cahill was prompted on this alternative
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/great-hope-halep-how-far-now.510359/page-17#post-10690801
close to a year ago.We have heard talk from both him and Simona on serve improvements, but there are no signficant results.

Today, Simona's forehand could have benefitted from a full conversion to the ATP style of forehand, to which Henin switched in order to beat the big girls - and Henin managed to do so. Hello?

Thus, when great titles, glory, and millions are lost - including for coaching - it bears repeating what I have been saying for three years now:

Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of

- STILL no better serve (just a marginal change: she could not ace Ostapenko much)

- STILL no better conditioning (she entered injured in this tourney as a result of not protecting her ankles with ankle supports)

These are all required to establish clear superiority and domination when one is a player of small height, as Justine Henin and her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, amply demonstrated.

And yes, I appreciate the fact that at least the advice suggested here years ago of hiring a mental coach/psychologist for more clarity of purpose and general winning attitude has been followed (with some very good results).

A bon entendeur, salut!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

P. S. Congratulations to Ostapenko. With the ratio of winners vs. Halep at 50 to 10 or thereabouts, she was clearly the better prepared player.

Hello, everyone,

Simona Halep's push for Grand Slams and #1 - and I am convinced she has the talent and the shots for all, but she is not training the required variety, simply not preparing properly, to speak openly - has been unfortunately undermined, hamstrung, by years of less-than-optimal development and strategic perspective, and this continues to this day, for in spite of an admirable effort in today's final of Roland Garros 2017 she came again short against a power player.

Today, and as usual, Simona fed Ostapenko a steady diet of topspin balls, exactly what Ostapenko likes. Even more, until too late, she allowed her opponent the initiative in terms of taking the ball on the rise, she staying too far back. Hello?

Today, Simona didn't have variety: no slice. That could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello?

Today Simona did not take the initiative at the net, by attempting only rarely to come there. Again, that could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello? Yes, I know she was (to some extent) injured, but those extended and repeated left-right baseline runs were even more taxing.

Today, Simona did not really use effectively the dropshots. Hello?

Today, Simona's serve was only slightly better than at the beginning of the year, but not to the extent she is capable of. Think about it: Henin at a comparable height had 117 mph, Simona 108. But Henin had a full shoulder-torso-body rotation, brought about by using Sampras's and Federer's platform stance. And be on standby on this one.

Today, Simona's forehand could have benefitted from a full conversion to the ATP style of forehand, to which Henin switched in order to beat the big girls - and Henin managed to do so. Hello?

Thus, when great titles, glory, and millions are lost - including for coaching - it bears repeating what I have been saying for three years now:

Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of

- STILL no better serve (just a marginal change: she could not ace Ostapenko much)

- STILL no better conditioning (she entered injured in this tourney as a result of not protecting her ankles with ankle supports)

These are all required to establish clear superiority and domination when one is a player of small height, as Justine Henin and her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, amply demonstrated.

And yes, I appreciate the fact that at least the advice suggested here years ago of hiring a mental coach/psychologist for more clarity of purpose and general winning attitude has been followed (with some very good results).

A bon entendeur, salut!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

P. S. Congratulations to Ostapenko. With the ratio of winners vs. Halep at 50 to 10 or thereabouts, she was clearly the better prepared player.
Hello, everyone,

Simona Halep's push for Grand Slams and #1 - and I am convinced she has the talent and the shots for all, but she is not training the required variety, simply not preparing properly, to speak openly - has been unfortunately undermined, hamstrung, by years of less-than-optimal development and strategic perspective, and this continues to this day, for in spite of an admirable effort in today's final of Roland Garros 2017 she came again short against a power player.

Today, and as usual, Simona fed Ostapenko a steady diet of topspin balls, exactly what Ostapenko likes. Even more, until too late, she allowed her opponent the initiative in terms of taking the ball on the rise, she staying too far back. Hello?

Today, Simona didn't have variety: no slice. That could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello?

Today Simona did not take the initiative at the net, by attempting only rarely to come there. Again, that could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello? Yes, I know she was (to some extent) injured, but those extended and repeated left-right baseline runs were even more taxing.

Today, Simona did not really use effectively the dropshots. Hello?

Today, Simona's serve was only slightly better than at the beginning of the year, but not to the extent she is capable of. Think about it: Henin at a comparable height had 117 mph, Simona 108. But Henin had a full shoulder-torso-body rotation, brought about by using Sampras's and Federer's platform stance. And be on standby on this one.

Today, Simona's forehand could have benefitted from a full conversion to the ATP style of forehand, to which Henin switched in order to beat the big girls - and Henin managed to do so. Hello?

Thus, when great titles, glory, and millions are lost - including for coaching - it bears repeating what I have been saying for three years now:

Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of

- STILL no better serve (just a marginal change: she could not ace Ostapenko much)

- STILL no better conditioning (she entered injured in this tourney as a result of not protecting her ankles with ankle supports)

These are all required to establish clear superiority and domination when one is a player of small height, as Justine Henin and her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, amply demonstrated.

And yes, I appreciate the fact that at least the advice suggested here years ago of hiring a mental coach/psychologist for more clarity of purpose and general winning attitude has been followed (with some very good results).

A bon entendeur, salut!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

P. S. Congratulations to Ostapenko. With the ratio of winners vs. Halep at 50 to 10 or thereabouts, she was clearly the better prepared player.
Hello, everyone,

Simona Halep's push for Grand Slams and #1 - and I am convinced she has the talent and the shots for all, but she is not training the required variety, simply not preparing properly, to speak openly - has been unfortunately undermined, hamstrung, by years of less-than-optimal development and strategic perspective, and this continues to this day, for in spite of an admirable effort in today's final of Roland Garros 2017 she came again short against a power player.

Today, and as usual, Simona fed Ostapenko a steady diet of topspin balls, exactly what Ostapenko likes. Even more, until too late, she allowed her opponent the initiative in terms of taking the ball on the rise, she staying too far back. Hello?

Today, Simona didn't have variety: no slice. That could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello?

Today Simona did not take the initiative at the net, by attempting only rarely to come there. Again, that could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello? Yes, I know she was (to some extent) injured, but those extended and repeated left-right baseline runs were even more taxing.

Today, Simona did not really use effectively the dropshots. Hello?

Today, Simona's serve was only slightly better than at the beginning of the year, but not to the extent she is capable of. Think about it: Henin at a comparable height had 117 mph, Simona 108. But Henin had a full shoulder-torso-body rotation, brought about by using Sampras's and Federer's platform stance. And be on standby on this one.

Today, Simona's forehand could have benefitted from a full conversion to the ATP style of forehand, to which Henin switched in order to beat the big girls - and Henin managed to do so. Hello?

Thus, when great titles, glory, and millions are lost - including for coaching - it bears repeating what I have been saying for three years now:

Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of

- STILL no better serve (just a marginal change: she could not ace Ostapenko much)

- STILL no better conditioning (she entered injured in this tourney as a result of not protecting her ankles with ankle supports)

These are all required to establish clear superiority and domination when one is a player of small height, as Justine Henin and her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, amply demonstrated.

And yes, I appreciate the fact that at least the advice suggested here years ago of hiring a mental coach/psychologist for more clarity of purpose and general winning attitude has been followed (with some very good results).

A bon entendeur, salut!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

P. S. Congratulations to Ostapenko. With the ratio of winners vs. Halep at 50 to 10 or thereabouts, she was clearly the better prepared player.
Hello, everyone,

Simona Halep's push for Grand Slams and #1 - and I am convinced she has the talent and the shots for all, but she is not training the required variety, simply not preparing properly, to speak openly - has been unfortunately undermined, hamstrung, by years of less-than-optimal development and strategic perspective, and this continues to this day, for in spite of an admirable effort in today's final of Roland Garros 2017 she came again short against a power player.

Today, and as usual, Simona fed Ostapenko a steady diet of topspin balls, exactly what Ostapenko likes. Even more, until too late, she allowed her opponent the initiative in terms of taking the ball on the rise, she staying too far back. Hello?

Today, Simona didn't have variety: no slice. That could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello?

Today Simona did not take the initiative at the net, by attempting only rarely to come there. Again, that could have been crucial in taking Ostapenko off her rhythm. Hello? Yes, I know she was (to some extent) injured, but those extended and repeated left-right baseline runs were even more taxing.

Today, Simona did not really use effectively the dropshots. Hello?

Today, Simona's serve was only slightly better than at the beginning of the year, but not to the extent she is capable of. Think about it: Henin at a comparable height had 117 mph, Simona 108. But Henin had a full shoulder-torso-body rotation, brought about by using Sampras's and Federer's platform stance. And be on standby on this one.

Today, Simona's forehand could have benefitted from a full conversion to the ATP style of forehand, to which Henin switched in order to beat the big girls - and Henin managed to do so. Hello?

Thus, when great titles, glory, and millions are lost - including for coaching - it bears repeating what I have been saying for three years now:

Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of

- STILL no better serve (just a marginal change: she could not ace Ostapenko much)

- STILL no better conditioning (she entered injured in this tourney as a result of not protecting her ankles with ankle supports)

These are all required to establish clear superiority and domination when one is a player of small height, as Justine Henin and her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, amply demonstrated.

And yes, I appreciate the fact that at least the advice suggested here years ago of hiring a mental coach/psychologist for more clarity of purpose and general winning attitude has been followed (with some very good results).

A bon entendeur, salut!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Simona Halep's Game at the 2016 AO ...

... not a pretty sight.

 Hello,

Since Simona's return, I have not seen the new elements she promised late last year to implement in order to use more variety in her game: 2 volleys a match (beaten clearly in that area by Kuznetzova), 2 slices a match, 2 dropshots a match, what is that? SHOW ME THE GOODS.

Successive Halep Teams (going through Wim Fissette and Darren Cahill) have failed to upgrade her means towards a JHH-inspired system against the power players, based on variety.

My advice, in short:

1. Get Carlos Rodriguez or Justine herself as coach. Get on your knees if necessary, Simona.

2. PAY Horia Tecau, her old-time friend, a doubles champion, in fact a member of the current #1 doubles team in the world, to really teach her how to attack the net. Again, not a friendly service, pay him. "Brother, brother, but the cheese's for money" (Romanian proverb). We need responsibility on both sides. Just in time for the Olympics, mind you.

Other than that, I'm sticking to what I'm saying basically for two years:

i.e.
-----
[advice after 2015 USO defeat]

Unfortunately, this can only be called a major failure for Simona Halep and her coaching staff. Totally uninspired play today after an otherwise great tournament and great results in the premier events at Toronto and Cincinnati, an effort which deserves respect, but ...

Yes. Fire Darren Cahill too. In Grand Slams (which is all it counts when you're number 2 - remember Safina?) he hasn't been better than Wim Fissette, which I have assumed might be the case quite a while ago. Both baseliner-player coaches, unable to lift Halep to levels and means where she is able to beat the offensive, inspired players on the day she wants to, at her own choice and will, forcing the issue as multiple GS champions would.

For no one can pretend that Pennetta is physically imposing, like Williams, Sharapova or perhaps Wozniacki.

Thus, I have nothing to do but repeat myself from one year back

-------------

FWIW, I was one of those militating for a new coach for Simona Halep last year, after her defeat at Singapore in the final with Serena Williams:

----
Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of (see Serena today, she applied her plan B throughout by coming to the net on each and every short ball)

- not enough coach on-court intervention to change course (perhaps Halep doesn't like that), including in today's match

just a good maintenance at a very good level, for which she should thank the current coach.

I had the same recommendation for Bouchard, even though her results aren't quite at the same level as Halep's.

Otherwise, she will continue to lack the variety of means to beat the best on a consistent basis, and will wear out her body, by her current insistence on staying parked at the baseline. She should change her style more toward's Henin's, than Clijsters'.

Am I too harsh? I don't think so. And I have had this recommendation for some time; as well, it's only confirmed by today's match.

There is a time for everything, and this is the best time for it, before putting in the hard work for the next season.

Suggestions? Paul Annacone, Stefan Edberg (even part time would help tremendously; and he might become available), Carlos Rodriguez (I know he has that academy in China, and he left even Li Na in the lurch because of it), even Justine Henin (if Mauresmo coaches, why not her? she has a tennis academy).

Now, Henin might not be available for touring as a coach for now.

...

A new series of coaches has passed Simona's way and have been dismissed since then, however the ideas do not seem to have changed in her camp, for her game plan A wasn't improved, and no plan B has become available (since November 2014 to this June 2015). In the meanwhile, she has scored painful defeats (as in the Australian, at Roland Garros or in even in Miami against Serena), together with some great success (Indian Wells). Let me be clear, it is a great achievement to be number 2 or 3 in the world, but it is not even by far the same as becoming number 1 at the end of the year, or winning Grand Slams, and this is the name of the game for someone of Simona's talent.

Simon Halep has the shots (the volleys, the dropshots, the high topspin, the slice) but she is not using them enough or at all, or in the right proportion, even though she has great hands. I am convinced that, like Bouchard, she is not training enough such variety, for having it available in matches, and for being mentally ready to use them. Not only that, but the opposition have caught up to her somewhat uniform style, and it is _them_ who are using first variety to beat her (Wozniacki, by slicing and coming to the net to volley, at Stuttgart; Mladenovic, by volleying and dropshotting her at Roland Garros; [EDIT: add now Pennetta at the USO to that list]). This should be a big warning sign for Simona.

I, for one, and being strengthened in my convictions by her latest results, continue to believe that only something similar with Henin's game, based on variety (in order to befuddle the opponents, to mess up their footwork and contact point) and shortening of the exchanges (in order to reduce the body wear), can be successful for someone of Halep's height, if she wants to be successful against Serena and Sharapova, or against other heavy hitters, such as Lucic, and if she wants to achieve that while having a long career in full health.

And Wimbledon would be a great place to see such changes implemented: the grass favors the slice, the dropshots, the net play, the short exchanges, the breaks in rhythm, the surprise.

Marius Hancu
-----

A similar text was posted in comments at tennis.com


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Seymour Chatman and Narratology

Hello,

I am distressed to find that Professor Seymour Chatman of Berkeley has passed away this year.

Try his works:
Later Style of Henry James (really illuminating)
Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film 

Michelangelo Antonioni, or, the Surface of the World (1986).

As he was one of the great contributors to rhetoric ("the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations") and to narratology ("refers to both the theory and the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect our perception"), I tracked down this great site:

Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative

by Manfred Jahn, 2005, English Department, University of Cologne.

Enjoy

Best.

Marius Hancu

Monday, November 2, 2015

Simona Halep: Good Plan, Now the Work

___
Cu siguranta trebuie sa progresez la slice, la venirea in fata si sa variez mai mult jocul", a dezvaluit Halep la revenirea in tara.
___

"Definitely, I must improve my slice, my moving forward, and vary my game to a larger extent," said Halep upon her arrival in Romania.

I'm glad someone seems to listen, for I've been saying these for two years now, as one can see at this blog, at  the TT forum, or at tennis.com:
___
In the end, Radwanska beat Halep at the net, she was the shotmaker there. That's what I'm saying for two years, that Halep is NOT DOING THE WORK TO IMPROVE AT THE NET (smashes, lobs, volleys - everything needs work)

What are those coaches (Wim Fissette and Darrell Cahill including) and herself doing?
___
 Personally, if I were Halep, with all the great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of (see Serena today, she applied her plan B throughout by coming to the net on each and every short ball)
______


Good plan. Let's hope there will be a considerable accent on it and volume of work in training for it.

A bon entendeur, salut.
 
Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

[
published at tennis.com in the comments to

Full Flight Ninja

]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Simona Halep Bumps Tennis-wise into Radwanska in the WTA Finals

Singapore 2015 RR: Halep - Radwanska

Radwanska seems to target Halep's BH but is broken
1-0 Halep
who comes to the net for 15-0
(So Radwanka's hitting partner is her BF, it seems (as per BT's David Mercer))
2-0 Halep
2-1 Radwanska's holds with a great cross-court FH

Halep comes to net to smash, great idea
3-1 Halep
whose BH isn't too active on the DTL
but now she gets one for BP
defended with an ace by Radwanska
3-2 Halep, 1 break up
but Radwanska breaks with a lob and a again a poor Halep smash - and this is the turnaround, folks
3-3

Radwanska dominates now with great touch volleys and placed drives
4-3
4-4 Halep holds after some emotions

Radwanska with 24-stroke rally saves the BP/marbles
and is better at the net where Halep is 3-8

4-5 Halep, R holds a crucial game
Radwanska has the initiative
but
5-5 Halep defends 2 BPs
5-6 Radwanska defends 3 BPs

Halep is 1-9 on BPs clearly needs more punch
she serves now to get into a TB

TB 1st set
R makes two errors
5-1 Halep in the TB
but what do you know?
5-3 after a great BH smash by Radwanska
5-7 Radwanska wins TB after Halep messes up another smash

Now, after one set, Radwanska is back in the tourney, and Halep has missed the chance of deciding qualification by herself.

In the end, Radwanska beat Halep at the net, she was the shotmaker there. That's what I'm saying for two years, that Halep is NOT DOING THE WORK TO IMPROVE AT THE NET (smashes, lobs, volleys - everything needs work)
What are those coaches (Wim Fissette and Darrell Cahill including) and herself doing?

At least Cahill supports relatively well in the breaks, but Halep doesn't seem to have the energy to respond.

Halep flubs a volley then a smash: 0-40

1-2 Radwanska up
1-3

Halep fails to use a BH smash (this too missing from the arsenal)
1-4
1-5
1-6 Radwanska wins and Halep is eliminated from the WTA finals, after 3 FH errors in her serving game (two plopped in the net - always a shame for a player because show there's no energy put in the shot, that your game forgot to start from the ground up there).

A shocker. The 1st set seems to have cut Halep to the quick.

Yes, fire Darrell Cahill too, with all the $4 mil won. You hire baseliner's coaches, when you need to make advances at the net, you're paying for it in terms of GSs and WTA finals and showmanship, even if you have achievements in the points, the rankings, and the $$.

Simona Halep is unfortunately treading waters in terms of technical and strategical progress for two years now, and to me 2014 top Halep was better than 2015 top Halep. She needs a great mental coach, a great PR coach, an English coach (yes, look at Muguruza's progress in that respect), a great tennis coach, she needs a well-rounded help in all aspects of the game.

Yes, playing doubles with Horia Tecau is a great learning environment. She should also listen at the advice from Martina Navratilova.

And, yes, Justine Henin remains the model to follow by Halep.

I know Justine is Simona's idol, and that is just perfect, but we should get to the direct approach to the game, to, e.g., practical solutions to beating Sharapova and S. Williams. If Justine modified her game to beat those players (say by adopting the ATP forehand for more power and work on the ball), so should Simona. For two years of the vanilla baseliner's approach have fully demonstrated the need for another take to the power players first of all, for more variety in order to disorient them.

Congratulations to Radwanska for a great shotmaking performance.

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada
[
published at tennis.com in the comments to

Top-seeded Simona Halep eliminated from WTA Finals

]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Margarita Gasparyan and her Wonderful One-Handed-Backhand




Margarita Gasparyan (of Armenian and Russian descent, it seems) playing and beating Giorgi now in Linz has one of the most beautiful (if not the most, and I cannot believe what I'm saying) 1HBH combo (slice + top, both crosscourt and DTL) since Henin. Watch her. 6 foot tall, quite athletic. Beautiful, a bit overdramatic, face. Cries/shouts too much.

British commentator "one of the best young players in a long time."

Winner of Baku against Patricia Tig of Romania, also a promising younster:
2015 Baku Final: Patricia Maria Tig vs. Margarita Gasparyan
(full match; BTW, look at that sparkling new arena in Baku, practically empty - this is WTA these days, a pity)

Also see her here
Serena Williams VS Margarita Gasparyan. Wimbledon, Full HD,Monday, June 29, 2015

#63 after today and not for long ...


Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) vs Varvara Lepchenko, 1stR 2015 Moscow.

Lepchenko leads 4-1, after Gasparyan had chances to break back. The youngster fights quite well, though.

Game for Gasparyan, after a magisterial 1HBH while going to the net, gets to 4-2 Lepchenko.

Amazing inside out 1HBH return by Gasparyan, for 15-30.
Her wonderful 1HBH is just as aggressive and long as the FH, rare sight today,
and she breaks to be on serve:

4-3 Lepchenko, Gasparyan serving.
G has a quite high-elbow (very recommended) in the trophy stance while serving and a pretty good rotation: takes game to love for:

4-4, Gasparyan is really back into the game now, with some ascendancy even.

But Lepchenko is a capable veteran, she wins her service at love for

5-4 Lepchenko
Amazing DTL BH by Gasparyan for 40-15

5-5, Lepchenko serving
Series of BHs by Gasparyan for 0-15, then breaking for

5-6 Lepchnko wants coach babying now.

Gasparyan serves for set. Let's see.
0-15 after a short and high BH volley by Gasparyan.
Great 1-2 serve-FH combo by G for 30-15.
Good serve into the body to win set.

Great show put on by Margarita in the 1st set against a former top 20 player and a very doggy opponent. Let's see how she continues.

Gasparyan breaks for

0-1 Lepchenko in the 2nd. She has very good follow throughs on both sides, and on the 1HBH, there's a flowery motion, indicating a strong wrist action on contact.

0-2 Lepchenko, after another great 1-2 by G, this time serve-BH-to-the-net.

Lepchenko holds for 1-2, thus it becomes important to maintain momentum by holding herself. Let's see. Mental here.

Great smash DTL by Gasparyan, for 30-15, followed by an excellent airborne FH DTL.

3-1 Gasparyan holds.

4-1 after Gasparyan breaks sending Lepchenko left and right and wrongfoots her. Everything clicks for her, but she needs to keep focus.

What I've just said? Lepchenko breaks for

4-2 Gasparyan.

Lepchenko holds, after 4 BH errors by Gasparyan, who puts them into the net. She seems to have lost some punch on that side, some energy. Critical game

4-3 Gasparyan.
After two holds,
5-4 Gasparyan, to serve for the match. Let's see if she keeps control.
Wins heavy rally for 15-0. Good.
but she makes enough errors to be broken

5-5.

6-5 Lepchenko, she holds, Gasparyan is close to tears when talking to coach.

TB, after a good hold by G. Let's see.

Great DTL FH for minibreak by G.

Great BH by Lepchenko for being on serve

2-1
1HBH beats leftie FH for 3-2 Gasparyan
3-3 now after a minibreak by the American, but
DF by Lepchenko for
5-3 Gasparyan
and she wins after a very good performance her debut match in the home Cup:

Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) d Varvara Lepchenko (USA) | 7 - 5 | 7 - 6 (4) |

Close to tears at shake hands, the Moscow beauty. This time, of satisfaction.

Very good coach, was able to re-stabilize her in the 2nd set. I wonder if she's the coach who taught Margarita her 1HBH, because then she deserves sooner or later a statue :))

A star is born, IMHO:))

Watch her, tennis fans, you'll greatly enjoy her game even though you might not be able to play the 1HBH :cool: She's effervescent.

However here, in the Kremlin Cup, Gasparyan continues to have a tough path, with Mladenovic, then Safarova or Pavliuchenkova. Not an easy draw for Safarova either, in her Singapore quest ...

[
Posted at comments after:

Kerber withdraws from Moscow with back injury

at tennis.com

]


Friday, September 11, 2015

Simona Halep's loss to Flavia Pennetta at the US Open requires long-delayed readjustments


 
Flavia Pennetta defeats Simona Halep 6-1 6-3 in the 2015 US Open SF 
 
Congratulations to Flavia Pennetta for a great plan and an inspired execution. No one should assume one can mow her down from the baseline by playing on automatic pilot. And Team Halep should have known better from Simona's previous loss at her hands at the USO and from Kvitova's recent experience.

Unfortunately, this can only be called a major failure for Simona Halep and her coaching staff. Totally uninspired play today after an otherwise great tournament and great results in the premier events at Toronto and Cincinnati, an effort which deserves respect, but ...

Yes. Fire Darren Cahill too. In Grand Slams (which is all it counts when you're number 2 - remember Safina?) he hasn't been better than Wim Fissette, which I have assumed might be the case quite a while ago. Both baseliner-player coaches, unable to lift Halep to levels and means where she is able to beat the offensive, inspired players on the day she wants to, at her own choice and will, forcing the issue as multiple GS champions would.

For no one can pretend that Pennetta is physically imposing, like Williams, Sharapova or perhaps Wozniacki.

Thus, I have nothing to do but repeat myself from one year back and as updated at this blog under
"Written before Wimbledon: New coaches, new plan for Simona Halep?"

-------------

FWIW, I was one of those militating for a new coach for Simona Halep last year, after her defeat at Singapore in the final with Serena Williams:

----
Personally, if I were Halep, with all great results (including on the financial side), which I'd be blind not to see and appreciate, I'd change coaches right now, as I honestly don't see any progress on the crucial technical and strategical side this year:

- STILL no slice

- STILL no volley, no occasional S-V

- not enough dropshots

- STILL no plan B to speak of (see Serena today, she applied her plan B throughout by coming to the net on each and every short ball)

- not enough coach on-court intervention to change course (perhaps Halep doesn't like that), including in today's match

just a good maintenance at a very good level, for which she should thank the current coach.

I had the same recommendation for Bouchard, even though her results aren't quite at the same level as Halep's.

Otherwise, she will continue to lack the variety of means to beat the best on a consistent basis, and will wear out her body, by her current insistance on staying parked at the baseline. She should change her style more toward's Henin's, than Clijsters'.

Am I too harsh? I don't think so. And I have had this recommendation for some time; as well, it's only confirmed by today's match.

There is a time for everything, and this is the best time for it, before putting in the hard work for the next season.

Suggestions? Paul Annacone, Stefan Edberg (even part time would help tremendously; and he might become available), Carlos Rodriguez (I know he has that academy in China, and he left even Li Na in the lurch because of it), even Justine Henin (if Mauresmo coaches, why not her? she has a tennis academy).

Now, Henin might not be available for touring as a coach for now.

...

A new series of coaches has passed Simona's way and have been dismissed since then, however the ideas do not seem to have changed in her camp, for her game plan A wasn't improved, and no plan B has become available (since November 2014 to this June 2015). In the meanwhile, she has scored painful defeats (as in the Australian, at Roland Garros or in even in Miami against Serena), together with some great success (Indian Wells). Let me be clear, it is a great achievement to be number 2 or 3 in the world, but it is not even by far the same as becoming number 1 at the end of the year, or winning Grand Slams, and this is the name of the game for someone of Simona's talent.

Simon Halep has the shots (the volleys, the dropshots, the high topspin, the slice) but she is not using them enough or at all, or in the right proportion, even though she has great hands. I am convinced that, like Bouchard, she is not training enough such variety, for having it available in matches, and for being mentally ready to use them. Not only that, but the opposition have caught up to her somewhat uniform style, and it is _them_ who are using first variety to beat her (Wozniacki, by slicing and coming to the net to volley, at Stuttgart; Mladenovic, by volleying and dropshotting her at Roland Garros; [EDIT: add now Pennetta at the USO to that list]). This should be a big warning sign for Simona.

I, for one, and being enforced in my convictions by her latest results, continue to believe that only something similar with Henin's game, based on variety (in order to befuddle the opponents, to mess up their footwork and contact point) and shortening of the exchanges (in order to reduce the body wear), can be successful for someone of Halep's height, if she wants to be successful against Serena and Sharapova, or against other heavy hitters, such as Lucic, and if she wants to achieve that while having a long career in full health.

And Wimbledon would be a great place to see such changes implemented: the grass favors the slice, the dropshots, the net play, the short exchanges, the breaks in rhythm, the surprise.

A bon entendeur, salut!
-------------

There is a line of progress in the right direction in Halep's strategic moves (and a silver lining to today's result) and that is her decision to play doubles. For today she was beaten fair and square by a 3-time GS doubles winner, who had usually the upper hand at the net. Simona Halep really needs to improve her net presence. 
There is a line of progress in the right direction in Halep's strategic moves (and a silver lining to today's result) and that is her decision to play doubles. For today she was beaten fair and square by a 3-time GS doubles winner, who had usually the upper hand at the net. Simona Halep really needs to improve her net presence.

[
published in the comments at tennis.com following

Consolation prize: Serena clinches year-end No. 1

]

There is a line of progress in the right direction in Halep's strategic moves (and a silver lining to today's result) and that is her decision to play doubles. For today she was beaten fair and square by a 3-time GS doubles winner, who had usually the upper hand at the net. Simona Halep really needs to improve her net presence.