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.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Has Simona Halep Been Driving the Right Vehicle to Wimbledon? (II)




[version written partly before, partly on the day of Simona Halep's singles match at 2015 Wimbledon]

Has Simona Halep Been Driving the Right Vehicle to Wimbledon? (II)
 
No, I am not talking about Simona's Porsche  ...

I am talking about this recent result:
 
Birmingham 2015
 
Mladenovic beats Halep in the quarterfinals
 
2-6 6-0 7-6(4)
 
and quite deservedly: she showed variety - in slices, dropshots (none on Halep's side), many more net trips (and volleying some; I remember volleys from Halep in just one hot exchange).

Mladenovic has considerably improved lately, and perhaps now some of us will recognize that Bouchard losing to her wasn't that bad.
 
Halep lost on that day for the 1st time this year as a (1) seed, and while recognizing Mladenovic's obvious good form, this should not have happened. And this is why:
 
Halep/Team Halep used again the bad strategy, IMO: fighting the power player with uniform power (when obviously she isn't generating the hardest shots out there), instead of variety. She lost two matches with Lucic playing this way. Hasn't nothing at all registered?
 
She didn't change the contact point of the opponent with slices (at all) or high topspin (not enough), didn't introduce elements of surprise with dropshots or occasional S/Ving. Mladenovic was tuned in onto an unvaried pace and kind of shot reliably fed by Halep. Halep let the opponent play the variety card, instead of taking the initiative to play it herself, as she did this year with Wozniacki, who came to the net much more in Stuttgart, or Cornet. She didn't shock Mladenovic with power or placed returns (not enough DTL returns in that respect). She allowed herself to be too comfortable for the opponent, her kind of "ball" was predictable. Losing many mano-a-mano crosscourt FH exchanges didn't wake up to the reality of the day on the court.
 
There was no plan B to speak of, clearly. There is no progress on this issue since the days of Adrian Marcu coaching her two years ago.
 
Halep is happily and fortunately in good physical shape, and her recovery in the 3rd showed good fighting spirit. However, she's running the wrong car/strategy. 
 
Perhaps Virginia Ruzici, her manager, and a former great Romanian player herself, should follow up on her own idea I heard of, of taking Simona for a session with Justine Henin at her academy for a master's class.  Simona has the all ingredients - the shots are there, the hands are great, but the recipe is wrong, for she isn't using them, all those components, or not enough, or not in the right order. And Justine Henin would be a  great choice as she was herself a great player who, while being even a tad smaller than Simona, came to master an all-court strategy able to beat the power players based on variety elements I mentioned in the above.
 
On the positive side, her serve has markedly improved recently to its better incarnation. Her return though isn't opportune enough, as she herself has recognized. One reason: there is not enough body going into the shot, stepping in, translation.
 
Stepping into short balls was on that much Mladenovic's domain, and in doing that she just followed a line that e.g. Muguruza has successfully administered Halep.
 
After the match with Mladenovic, it seemed to me that both players had accumulated enough matches to be OK for Wimbledon and in that Birmingham had been thoroughly useful, but again, for me Halep was traveling in the wrong vehicle, one that would take much more effort to win in the big venue to come.
 
As one can see in the recording in the 2nd set at 1-0 for Mladenovic, with Halep serving, she sent the ball 4 times into the net, out of which were elementary situations.
 
Then Mladenovic came to the net to finish the point, and finished it quite well, with a volley.
I felt then this had been an unexpected drop in attention on the part of Halep after the success in the 1st which turned around the match.
 
Now as to the reasons for this, AlexT's (from the Tennis Talk forum) "Only she knows" is as good as an answer as any, but the situation points to [major] lapses of concentration.
 
The only explanation that would have worked in her favor for the debacle in the match with Mladenovic:
 
She planned the whole thing herself (and considering she's got enough grass practice already) in order to mimic Kvitova, who retired from Eastbourne after two official matches on grass last year, only to win Wimbledon thereafter.
 
Too remote? I think so :-[

Unfortunately, this was confirmed today by Simona Halep losing in the first round at Wimbledon to Jana Cepelova.
 
It seems difficult to believe, but it is real, today, June 30, 2015, Jana Cepelova used a more varied game than Simona Halep: she sliced and diced, came to the net, returned harder to shock the opponent, at times to put Simona on her heels, to surprise her and stress her. Capital example #1: with a slice she messed up Halep's contact point, got an error, and won the crucial 2nd set. Capital example 21: by coming to the net and handling a very tricky volley she won the penultimate point, leading to matchpoint.
 
It was, plainly to all to see, a superior strategy.

Then, to cap it all, at the official interview today, Simona declared optimistically: "My game is there."
 
Well, I for one would have liked to believe that from the beginning of the claycourt season, but I was continuously forced by the events to believe otherwise.
 
For which "game" is Simona talking about?
 
Last year's Roland Garros/Wimbledon vintage?
 
Sorry, perhaps not. E.g. the down-the-line forhand generated many more errors. The dropshots, more frequent last year, were today to be searched for with the microscope. BTW, I lately compared the quality of volleys in a Youtube recording showing Simona pairing recently with Heather Watson in doubles, and Simona didn't find her place on the court, stayed mainly at the baseline, and her volleys were not of the quality of last year, and very rare.
 
A new, more all-court, evolved version? There was none to be found - and I really wanted to find one. There was no slice today, no volleys, one dropshot (sorry if my memory fails me, but I am comparing with Cepelova, ridiculously more proficient than Simona Halep in  those chapters) .
 
Perhaps Simona talks of her shots. Oh, yes, we all know she has great hands, and the slice, the volley, the dropshot, the movement. are part of her arsenal of shots.  But a strategy/a game that really uses them in a significant proportion, or in the right order, coherent and well-thought, well, that might be too much to speak of.
 
So, let's just make tabula rasa of the Roland Garros/Wimbledon campaign and of its related strategy, for they were of a quite incomplete conception, lacking perspective as to what is best for Simona Halep in today's game, and not executed too great either.
                                       
You want my model of game for Simona Halep? It is still something much closer of Henin's.

                                                                        
A bon entendeur, salut.
 
Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

[
published in the comments at tennis.com following

Halep cites nerves, low confidence in early exit

]

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Written before Wimbledon: New coaches, new plan for Simona Halep?

Hello, everyone,

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:

Henin willing to look at coaching after having another child
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2014...fter-having-another-child/51735/#.VE6bH6OQhPx
 
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/2014-tour-championship-singapore-discussion-thread.515573/page-12#post-8844459

----

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). 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!

Marius Hancu
Montreal, Canada

[
comment after 
Halep making another coaching switch
]

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wimbledon: E ridicul, dar real, Cepelova a practicat un joc mai variat decat Simona Halep

Vom fi, majoritatea dintre noi, totdeauna cu Simona. De aceea este trist sa constatam ca eforturi de luni de zile la antrenamente nu au avut, de fapt, o conceptie globala bine gandita. Cel putin din punctul meu de vedere.

E ridicul, dar real, astazi la Wimbledonul anului 2015, Cepelova a practicat un joc mai variat decat Simona Halep: a slaisat, a venit la fileu, a dat tare in unele mingi, suficient pentru a o pune pe calcaie, surprinde si stresa pe Simona. Exemplul crucial 1: Cu un slais a deplasat punctul de contact al Simonei, care a gresit si a pierdut setul al doilea. Exemplul crucial 2:La fileu a castigat penultimul punct, care a dus-o la punct de meci.
Cum am mai spus (si nu ma jenez sa o repet, daca nu vad schimbari) lipsa unui plan bazat pe joc variat, adecvat pentru ea, ca si a unei alternative (planul B) este principala lacuna a Simonei si antrenorilor sai.

Wim Fissette, in aproape un an de zile, cu toate succesele pentru care Simona trebuie sa ii fie recunoscatoare, nu a fost in stare sa creeze un plan de joc destul de variat:

- care sa contina slaisul;

- care sa contina multe veniri la fileu atat cu voleuri clasice, cat si brosate (swinging), inclusiv serviciu-voleu. Nu tot timpul, dar cu caracter de surpriza, hai sa zicem o data pe ghem, pentru ruperi de ritm;

- care sa contina mai multe stopuri (Simona face, dar nu destule, a fost surclasata de Mladenovici la capitolul acesta);

- care sa contina o miscare de translatzie mult mai marcata, de intrare/pasire in minge, nu numai de rotatie, atat la retururi cat si in schimburi de pe linia de fund; Simona este prea mult parcata pe linia de fund;

- care sa contina un plan B. Simona nici acum nu are unul, cum nu are nici Bouchard, si cand varianta strategica principala nu functioneaza, e pierduta;

- care sa varieze mai mult inaltimea mingilor
(Simona are o inaltime medie a traiectoriei mingii, pe care nu o prea variaza, si asta le bucura pe adversare, fiindca le "serveste la mana");

ceea ce nu au facut nici antrenorii de dupa el inca.

Faptul ca Wim, care a antrenat-o in principal pe Kim Clijsters, nu o sa o scoata pe Simona de pe linia de fund se putea anticipa de la inceput, fiindca asa juca Kim.

Dar Kim era solida, puternica, se putea angaja in schimburi de durata cu Serena sau Sarapova de pe fund.

Simona, la gabaritul sau, trebuie sa scurteze schimburile "grele," daca vrea sa aiba o cariera cat mai lunga in sanatate. Deci ea trebuie sa se apropie de stilul lui Henin, cu veniri la fileu si mare varietate, cu surprize si ruperi de ritm.

Ca Victor Ionita si Cahill au adus-o la un nivel ridicat pe hard este clar, dupa hiatusul de la Australian. Dar asta era revenire: Fissette o adusese deja la un nivel ridicat la Singapore, cand a batut-o pe Williams in primul meci.

Problema initiala cu actualul plan de joc al Simonei Halep era ca nu permitea sa le bata pe Williams si Sharapova cand ele joaca la varf. Acolo sunt necesare alte mijloace si Justine Henin le-a demonstrat - bazate pe varietate.

Meciul recent cu Wozniacki a demonstrat ca paradoxal alte jucatoare, ca daneza, aplica acum impotriva ei varietatea de care Simona ar fi trebuit sa dea dovada, conform celor de mai sus. Wozniacki a venit la fileu in acel meci, a voleiat, a slaisat, lovituri pe care Simona le poseda, dar nu le foloseste, desi are o mana cu totul deosebita. Jocul sau a fost mult mai uniform si previzibil.

Adversara de astazi de la Wimbledon a dovedit mai multa varietate si rezultatul s-a vazut, din nefericire pentru Simona si noi, suporterii sai. Sa nu uitam ca Cepelova, desi nu a castigat decat un meci in tabela principala anul acesta, are o victorie anul trecut la Serena la Charleston. Dar sa nu uitam nici faptul ca ea este o jucatoare care are aceeasi inaltime ca si Simona. Deci aici parametrii fizici nu mai pot fi invocati, a fost, pur si simplu si pe romaneste, o strategie superioara.

A bon entendeur, salut.

Marius Hancu

Montreal, Canada

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nu, Carlos Rodriguez este cel de care are nevoie Simona



[In Romanian]

Nu, Carlos Rodriguez este cel de care avea si de care inca are nevoie Simona Halep, si nu Wim Fissette. Wim este mai putin potrivit pentru ea decat Carlos Rodriguez, desi Wim este categoric mai experimentat la nivelul de varf decat toti antrenorii romani.

Wim, in aproape un an de zile, cu toate succesele pentru care Simona trebuie sa ii fie recunoscatoare, nu a fost in stare sa creeze un plan de joc destul de variat:

- care sa contina slaisul;

- care sa contina multe veniri la fileu atat cu voleuri clasice, cat si brosate (swinging), inclusiv serviciu-voleu. Nu tot timpul, dar cu caracter de surpriza, hai sa zicem o data pe ghem, pentru ruperi de ritm;

- care sa contina mai multe stopuri (Simona face, dar nu destule, a fost surclasata de Mladenovici la capitolul acesta);

- care sa contina o miscare de translatzie mult mai marcata, de intrare/pasire in minge, nu numai de rotatie, atat la retururi cat si in schimburi de pe linia de fund; Simona este prea mult parcata pe linia de fund;

- care sa contina un plan B. Simona nici acum nu are unul, cum nu are nici Bouchard, si cand varianta strategica principala nu functioneaza, e pierduta;

- care sa varieze mai mult inaltimea mingilor (Simona are o inaltime medie a traiectoriei mingii, pe care nu o prea variaza, si asta le bucura pe adversare, fiindca le "serveste la mana");

ceea ce nu au facut nici antrenorii de dupa el inca.

Faptul ca Wim, care a antrenat-o in principal pe Kim Clijsters, nu o sa o scoata pe Simona de pe linia de fund se putea anticipa de la inceput, fiindca asa juca Kim.

Dar Kim era solida, puternica, se putea angaja in schimburi de durata cu Serena sau Sarapova de pe fund.

Simona, la gabaritul sau, trebuie sa scurteze schimburile "grele," daca vrea sa aiba o cariera cat mai lunga in sanatate. Deci ea trebuie sa se apropie de stilul lui Henin, cu veniri la fileu si mare varietate, cu surprize si ruperi de ritm.

Carlos Rodriguez, antrenorul lui Justine Henin si Li Na, este cel de care categoric are Simona nevoie. L-a ratat cand l-a concediat pe Wim si l-a luat Hantuchova. Asa ca, sincer vorbind, trebuie sa il "fure" Hantuchovei. Sigur ca trebuie platit bine, dar daca Hantuchova isi permite, Halep o poate cu atat mai mult.

Justine Henin insasi ar fi si ea foarte buna, dar ea are doi copii mici si nu merge inca pe circuit.

Carlos Rodriguez a invatat-o pe Justine cum sa faca fatza jucatoarelor puternice cu un joc variat, si asta este exact lucrul de care Simona are nevoie acum.

Cum sa fie "petzit" Carlos? O idee ar fi sa mearga Simona pentru o master class la academia lui Justine, cu Justine, acum inainte de Wimbledon (preferabil, zic eu) sau imediat dupa. Cred ca asta ar fi extraordinar de util, inclusiv pentru faptul ca Justine i-ar da poante culese in confruntari directe cu Serena is Sharapova. Nu cred ca Justine poate fi antrenoare itineranta acum (are copii mici), dar are mare admiratie pentru Simona. In cursul discutiilor, sa fie rugata Justine sa "puna o pila" pe langa Carlos. Iar Justine sigur nu vrea sa o ajute pe Serena sa ia si mai multe slemuri.

Sa discute si cu Li Na si sa o roage si pe ea sa intervina pe langa Carlos, care a antrenat-o si pe ea. 

Dar si mai mult, sa isi exprime ea, direct cu Carlos sau prin Doamna Ruzici, dorinta de a deveni o jucatoare all-court/de teren intreg mult mai mult decat este acum si sa ii spuna lui Carlos ca ea crede sincer ca el este cel care poate sa o ajute in cea mai mare masura. Carlos este un tip de principii si ar fi si magulit.

Argumentand in plus ca daca Rodriguez vrea sa influenteze mersul si stilul tenisului mondial, ar avea sanse mult mai mari cu o jucatoare tanara, aflata la varful clasamentului, ca Simona, decat cu cineva (Hantuchova) care a trecut de apogeul sau, cu tot respectul pentru Hantuchova.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Is Simona Halep Driving the Right Vehicle to Wimbledon?


No, I am not talking about Simona's Porsche  ...

I am talking about this result:

Birmingham 2015

Mladenovic beats Halep in the quarterfinals
2-6 6-0 7-6(4)

and quite deservedly: she showed variety - in slices, dropshots (none on Halep's side), many more net trips (and volleying some; I remember volleys from Halep in just one hot exchange).

Mladenovic has considerably improved lately, and perhaps now some of us will recognize that Bouchard losing to her wasn't that bad.

Halep loses for the 1st time this year as a (1) seed, and while recognizing Mladenovic's obvious good form, this should not have happened. And this is why:

Halep/Team Halep used again the bad strategy, IMO: fighting the power player with uniform power (when obviously she isn't generating the hardest shots out there), instead of variety. She lost two matches with Lucic playing this way. Hasn't nothing at all registered?

She didn't change the contact point of the opponent with slices (at all) or high topspin (not enough), didn't introduce elements of surprise with dropshots or occasional S/Ving. Mladenovic was tuned in onto an unvaried pace and kind of shot reliably fed by Halep. Halep let the opponent play the variety card, instead of taking the initiative to play it herself, as she did this year with Wozniacki, who came to the net much more in Stuttgart, or Cornet. She didn't shock Mladenovic with power or placed returns (not enough DTL returns in that respect). She allowed herself to be too comfortable for the opponent, her kind of "ball" was predictable. Losing many mano-a-mano crosscourt FH exchanges didn't wake up to the reality of the day on the court.

There was no plan B to speak of, clearly. There is no progress on this issue since the days of Adrian Marcu coaching her two years ago.

Halep is happily and fortunately in good physical shape, and her recovery in the 3rd showed good fighting spirit. However, she's running the wrong car/strategy.
Perhaps Virginia Ruzici, her manager, and a former great Romanian player herself, should follow up on her own idea I heard of, of taking Simona for a session with Justine Henin at her academy for a master's class. Even next week isn't too late. Simona has the all ingredients - the shots are there, the hands are great, but the recipe is wrong, for she isn't using them, all those components, or not enough, or not in the right order. And Justine Henin would be a  great choice as she was herself a great player who, while being even a tad smaller than Simona, came to master an all-court strategy able to beat the power players based on variety elements I mentioned in the above.

On the positive side, her serve has markedly improved recently to its better incarnation. Her return though isn't opportune enough, as she herself has recognized. One reason: there is not enough body going into the shot, stepping in, translation.

Stepping into short balls was today much Mladenovic's domain, and in doing that she just followed a line that e.g. Muguruza has successfully administered Halep.

Both players have accumulated enough matches to be OK for Wimbledon and in that Birmingham has been thoroughly useful, but again, for me Halep is traveling in the wrong vehicle, one that will take much more effort to win in the big venue to come.

As one can see in the recording in the 2nd set
at 1-0 for Mladenovic, with Halep serving, she sent the ball 4 times into the net, out of which 2 were elementary situations.
Then Mladenovic came to the net to finish the point, and finished it quite well, with a volley.

I feel this was an unexpected drop in attention on the part of Halep after the success in the 1st which turned around the match.

Now as to the reasons for this, AlexT's (from the Tennis Talk forum) "Only she knows" is as good as an answer as any, but the situation points to [major] lapses of concentration.

The only explanation that would work in her favor for today's debacle:

She planned the whole thing herself (and considering she's got enough grass practice already) in order to mimic Kvitova, who retired from Eastbourne after two official matches on grass last year, only to win Wimbledon thereafter.

Too remote? I think so :-[

Anyway, congratulations to Mladenovic for a great game.

Marius Hancu

Montreal, Canada

[
Published in comments at
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2015/06/halep-loses-to-mladenovic-in-quarterfinals-at-birmingham/55310/#.VYWLFY6aegf
]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I would like to announce this giveaway open to my readers in the US, Japan, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Romania that are Goodreads members:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Simon and Hiroko by Marius Hancu

Simon and Hiroko

by Marius Hancu

Giveaway ends March 06, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win