Confidence crisis for Mladenovic but she will be back!

In my last piece about Kristina Mladenovic I wrote that everything was coming together in her game and I stand by that despite a crisis of confidence for the 24 year old.

Ever since her defeat to Timea Bacsinscky at Roland Garros her home slam where many expected more it has fallen apart for her. It may be looked as the one that got away but she has to move on and for some players that could be one day, one week, one month or four you just don’t know.

If anything with no Serena, Maria (at the time) Azarenka players must put extra pressure on themselves!

At the moment Kiki is on a seven match loosing streak and lost her last match in Tokyo 6-0 6-0.

Watching the match you can tell the game is there but she doesn’t look confident at all and it will turn around at some point and sometimes you have to win against a good opponent playing badly in all honesty and think this is coming back together.

For me a match can be summed up by a point and this was match point. Down 0-6 0-5 we saw her approach the net and the play leading up to her approaching the net was good but when Quang played that forehand it went straight past her in what looked like a lack of confidence.

Every top player has been there, the ranking drops and it then requires more work and I believe she will get back to the level we saw in the first half of the year.

Unfortunately reading on social media some seem to find the ‘funny’ side of a player being on a run like this which is sad but that is the world we live in now where having a laugh at someone else’s expense seems to be the ‘cool’ thing and it isn’t.

The run is unfortunate for Kiki but it’s about believing and I believe she will get out of this run soon and this time next year will be easily a top 15 ranked player.

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Why Shapovalov will be the future star of Canadian tennis!

For some time Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard were tipped as the leading stars in Canadian tennis but for one reason or another that has fallen flat. Over the last few months we have witnessed a new star on the scene and that is Denis Shapovalov.

At the age of 18 Denis has brought enthusiasm and energy to the tennis court. He first caught the attention of the public in Davis Cup when he got defaulted for hitting the ball in anger which then hit the umpire in the eye.

To Denis’ credit he has reacted well to what happened and does all his talking with his tennis.

His game is a unique one and being a left handed player opens himself up with a various number of shots. His favoured shot is the forehand which he bounces off and he can use down cross court to pull opponents about and down the line as seen below the cross court forehand helped him set up the forehand down the line.

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Unusually for a left handed player as well he does play with a one handed backhand and has the ability and confidence to go with it to pull off some stunning flat backhands but also when pushed to it we will see that two handed backhand so having variety on the backhand is unusual but effective.

Denis has that likable factor, he turns up and plays his game. The emotion is real and this is something I hope sticks and he is left to get on with his tennis without too much pressure put on him.

The win against Nadal in front of a home crowd in Montreal was special and more of those moments look to follow.

 

Nick’s being himself and I admire that greatly!

I’ve been meaning to write this piece for a while. After reading Nick’s open interview the other day via his Twitter account the one emotion I felt after reading it was admired and I think people should open their eyes more and see the bigger picture.

One of Nick’s points was the media attention especially social media and his career and social media pretty hit off at the same time and just imagine if it had hit off when Federer, Nadal or many other world class sports men and women had been beginning their careers when social media and media attention was as high as it is now it would be a nightmare.

Nick started off this piece by saying he is not the professional tennis needs him to be but is it what the sport needs him to be and like I have already said look at the bigger picture. Ok players you can say do have a responsibility on court but we need that personality as well as that responsibility and in the pressure of the match you can get frustrated easily.

Growing up we all fell in love with sports for a reason. For me I watched Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and not only their games but their personality on their pitch was what stood out for me. If anything I’d put Nick in this category, I like Nick he has brought a new style to tennis which is what the sport is about and it’s broadened minds to what can be done on the court. He’s a passionate player which deep down shows that he cares about what he is doing.

I play tennis once a week with friends and it is true what they say we try and replicate what we see. I’m left handed but I feel more comfortable with a two handed backhand, the sliced forehand and sometimes the left forehand. It’s weird I know but it isn’t just about forehands and backhands. My favourite word in tennis is variety and Nick has inspired that and when playing it makes me think ahead in rallies to play those slices and follow the ball into the net or drop shot from the back of the court, lob from a running position he’s inspired that.

Nick gets a rough time and it kind of reminds me of what Murray received over here in Britain. At the end of the day they are just interested in selling a story and ride the wave when it goes well but when it crashes they are the first to jump on their back, maybe they should learn the word ‘support.’

Andy got criticised all the time even when he did nothing, once because he said he was Scottish not English that made the headlines of the national newspapers and that influences people’s minds but he went about his business and won majors and those doubters are suddenly his biggest fans. It’s a shame that to start with media just want to bring you down but it sells.

It’s a shame people don’t try to get to know Nick and reading his piece on playersvoice.com I admired how open and honest he was and that was refreshing. Some may think the tour life is a dream to travel the world and that aspect excites many but it probably can be lonely especially being away from loved ones all year round and losing a close member to the family is tough.

The future. Nick said one motivating thought he has is “to earn enough money to build a centre for kids who are homeless, having problems at home or don’t have the financial means to play sport” He went on to say the most satisfying thing he has done is build a little shelter in Lyneham Tennis Centre (where he played) in tribute to his Nan.

Nick is being himself and I admire that, it may not be want people want to see and I’d love to see him go on in the next few years and win titles but one thing you have to continue doing is supporting and believing.

It doesn’t get written about enough but he’s doing his bit to give back, he may not be the professional people want him to be but he’s doing his thing and I for one admire that greatly!

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Once again New York delivered and it was emotional!

The Grand Slams always create a feel good factor and year on year New York tops it, this it reached impeccable levels of emotion which will never be forgotten. Memories are made, tears are shed and history is created so let’s recap the incredible moments from the fortnight.

An emotional return

Petra Kvitova pulled off some incredible tennis in New York. What she has done since returning from that horrific stabbing around Christmas is unbelievable. A crowd favourite wherever she plays she is just so humble and happy to be playing tennis and that’s what it is all about.

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Juan Martin Del Potro

This man is something else, he continues to wow crowd across the world and his performances in New York were nothing short of exceptional especially the epic four set battle against Federer. This man is just infectious, his personality is beautiful and this is what makes him so liked worldwide.

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Sloane’s story

957 to 17 in a month. Quite incredible from Sloane Stephens after almost a year out and wins her first major title. Some stories just tell themselves and this is one of those. Well done Sloane!

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There were many other stories as well from New York. The run of Anderson, Keys, Double delight for Martina Hingis, Venus Williams rolling back the years once more.

New York delivered once again.

Balance and Brilliance, how Rafa got back to where he belongs!

Rafal Nadal is back on top. This looked impossible a year ago now he’s had his best year for some time. Runner up in Melbourne, King in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris and now the star in New York his rise back to the top has been incredible but it’s been down to hard work.

Nadal’s talent is probably better than anyone’s in my opinion. His whole game is one that comes down to hard work as well. There was a struggle for quite some time and the forehand became a weakness, the serve was tired and the backhand was flat and that was sad to see his form and confidence dip especially for a man who before this year had 14 major titles confidence still plays a massive part no matter what you have achieved and throw that in with injuries it’s been tough but he’s enjoying his tennis once more.

Some will turn around and say well there is no Novak, Murray or Stan but you can only win your matches and your battles and you could flip it on the other hand and say if he lost in R2 well there is no Novak, Murray or Stan and he blew it so if anything there is more pressure in situations like this.

Nadal’s brilliance is his forehand. The flick of the wrist and the spin he generates is out of this world whether he flicks it up the line or kills the angle cross court it’s stunning.

Not only has Nadal found this shot again but also found the balance in his game. The serve is back and probably better than it has ever been before. Adding good friend, former player and ex doubles partner Carlos Moya to his team was a good decision he has helped find that killer instinct on the serve which was lacking. As a lefty you do have a bit more of an advantage on serve with that bouncing slice out-wide and he has utilised his skill a lot with the sharp serve down the T, kick into the body or the slice out wide.

The backhand is the shot that Nadal use to avoid, it was the weaker of the two but he seems more composed and free on it instead of being tight. It’s not the strongest shot in the game but’s it more of a game changer now in favour of Nadal, he is so good at lining it up and finding the target and this has all made the difference.

Throw in the forehand, serve, improved backhand and of course confidence and what you have is a Grand Slam winner once more!

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Sloane’s story is one that will never be topped!

Stories in tennis don’t come better. We’ve had so many over the last few years. Return of Petra Ktvitova, Flavia Pennetta’s New York Triumph, Venus Williams’ brilliance and of course Monica Puig’s Gold in Rio but nothing will top Sloane Stephens winning the US Open.

Sloane missed 11 months of tennis and recently returned to Toronto where she went on a roll and it continued coming into Flushing Meadows. When Sloane returned she was ranked at 957 in the world and in less than a month pulled it down to 83 in the world which is what she came into New York ranked and will finish the fortnight at Flushing Meadows ranked around 17 in the world.

It didn’t go to plan for Keys who looked to be hindered by this leg strap and went big too soon on too many occasions but Sloane was impeccable and I don’t think a fully fit Madison Keys could have defeated her compatriot today.

It’s Sloane’s day in New York and on this evidence we could see many more!

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Double delight!

Martina Hingis first won in New York but in 1997 now the Swiss star is a champion for a 5th time in her career winning her 24th career Grand Slam title.

For a second Grand Slam running she has teamed up with Jamie Murray and it has been a great success with the duo unbeaten winning at Wimbledon and now here in New York.

They compliment each others games so well and what makes them such a dangerous team right from the off is that both are good at the net and baseline but importantly when you watch them they always smile.

Two Grand Slams, Two titles a trip to Melbourne together in 4 months time?

Why not!

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