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

Radwanska dominates now with great touch volleys and placed drives
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
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

Halep fails to use a BH smash (this too missing from the arsenal)
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 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


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

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