Archive | Monday , November 5 , 2007

Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport A Contrast In Comeback Attempts

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Martina Hingis is clearly in a downward spiral. Hingis abruptly ended her career last week with a question mark. What will Martina Hingis legacy be? Will Hingis be remembered as a great tennis champion or a former teen prodigy that was pushed too hard too soon? I am actually concerned about Martina Hingis because I believe she is in denial. Former world number one Martina Hingis urine sample tested positive with traces of cocaine at Wimbledon. Hingis denies drug use, even though the second urine sample provided the exact same result. Now cocaine is not considered a performance enhancing drug even though it is a banned substance.

Hingis must be going through some kind of personal crisis in her life to be experimenting with cocaine. Hingis knows the rules, it was disconcerting that she used cocaine.Martina knows the grand slam events always test the top players routinely for all kinds of banned substances. Mats Wilander back in the 1990s he also tested positive for cocaine.

I am not a fan of Hingis, but I do admire her talent she definitely had a lot of skills. Hingis had a complete game but she wasn’t strong enough physically or psychologically. Its amazing ten years ago Martina Hingis was on the top of the world, she won three out of the four grand slams at the age of sixteen.

Now a decade later, Martina Hingis appears lost and confused. The problem for Hingis was she was so stubborn, she never changed her game. Every single tennis expert said Hingis needed a bigger first serve but she never listened to the advice. Hingis was simply overpowered by the power players such as the Williams Sisters, Davenport, and Jennifer Capriati. She lost her confidence when the American women started to beat her consistently.

Hingis did not adapt, she paid the price with mediocore tennis results. Sure, Martina won a few WTA tour events but she didn’t return to the WTA to win Tokyo or Rome she returned because she wanted grand slam glory.

The media has been “fair” not to bash Hingis when she’s down and it demonstrates that even reporters have enough “class” to understand Hingis is going through a rough time right now. Could you imagine if it was the reverse though? I don’t appreciate the mainstream media discussing the Williams Sisters in this Hingis “controversy” when the focus here should be on Hingis.

Where is the respect for the Williams Sisters though? The mainstream American media always had a mixture of intrigue but also jealousy with Venus and Serena Williams.

I always felt that the Williams Sisters were so much more mature and well adjusted then their peers. The Williams family have proven their way was the “right way” all along.

The cynics and the critics said Venus and Serena needed to focus on tennis to return to grand slam glory but once again in the year 2007 Venus and Serena proved the haters wrong.

I admire the Williams Sisters because they just don’t care for the American tennis establishment they do things their own way and it works. Venus and Serena proved once again in 2007 regardless of where they are ranked they can still win grand slams.

Venus and Serena also realized there was a “bigger picture” beyond tennis. For instance, Venus and Serena  are  high school graduates and Hingis left school early to focus on tennis. Hingis was forced to play tennis at a young age and for most of her life all she knew was tennis.

Hingis never came across as a very mature person like Venus, Serena, or Justine Henin. The Williams Sisters are cognizant that they needed outside interests to balance the pressure cooker that is professional tennis.

The American female tennis critics such as the termagants Mary Carillo, Tracy Austin, Pam Shriver, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova consistently bashed the Williams Sisters for having “real lives” beyond tennis.

Let’s be honest here, Carillo, Austin, Shriver, Evert, and Navratilova do not care about the well being of Venus or Serena. The venom, negativity, and spite of the American female tennis critics was obvious for anyone that can discern beneath the surface.

The American female tennis critics always favored Hingis, Capriati, and Davenport over the Williams Sisters and we all know the reason why its not rocket science. The United States is still a very racially stratified country.

The USTA waited four years after the great Althea Gibson’s death to have a disgraceful inhumane posthumous tribute at the US OPEN this year.

Gibson died bitter, I cannot say I blame her for the resentment she had for the USTA, she was right.

The USTA has no respect for black tennis players and that’s a fact.

The constant negative bias the American female tennis critics have for the Williams Sisters is abhorrent.

It’s hard to take the American female tennis critics seriously because their words are laced with a mixture of racism, sexism, and immaturity. The intense hatred Carillo, Austin, Shriver, Evert, and Navratilova have for the Williams Sisters is beyond disgraceful its absolutely pathetic.

Venus and Serena changed tennis forever from being a white country club sport to a sport where millions of people pay attention and respect women’s tennis.

Martina Hingis also deserves some praise for bringing women’s tennis to the “masses.” The rivalry between the Williams Sisters and Hingis was great for the game.

It is such a shame that Martina Hingis refused to improve her game get stronger, more fitter, and take the game more seriously. Hingis eventually was passed by the Williams Sisters and Justine Henin.

The Williams Sisters have proven once again that a “strong family” can overcome anything in this world from racism, sexism, and even jealousy.

Its also surprising that Tracy Austin criticizes the Williams Sisters because she was a classic blueprint example of a former teen tennis prodigy that “burned out”.

Austin was the first modern tennis player that had too much success too soon. Austin was a solid player but she wasn’t an incredible talent she only won two grand slams. There was nothing interesting or remarkable about Tracy Austin’s game she was so boring to watch.

Austin was never as talented or in the same league as Martina Hingis, Justine Henin or the Williams Sisters. Next, Jennifer Capriati burned out and after that Martina Hingis and then Kim Clijsters couldn’t handle the pressure of fame and success at a young age. The Williams Sisters and Justine Henin proved to be the best players of their era but also the smartest as well.

Its interesting that the American tennis critics always slammed the Williams Sisters, yet always praised Hingis even though she was a foreigner. Well look at Martina Hingis now she obviously never grew up and had outside interests.

Jennifer Capriati is another former tennis player she also had a very hard time adjusting to life off of the WTA tour. The Williams family clearly had the right strategy. Venus and Serena understand that although they love tennis they needed outside interests to balance life. Martina Hingis appears as though she’s still trying to find herself she needs help hopefully she can find it.

The new world number one Justine Henin should of been an inspiration to Hingis.

Justine Henin is only five foot five ,she’s two inches shorter then Hingis, yet her game is so much more powerful. Henin maximized her potential making sure her serve was big enough and that she had the variety mixed with the power.

Henin continued to improve her serve and her game. Its amazing that Henin is only five foot five yet she can beat the bigger and stronger women on the WTA. Justine Henin loves tennis so much she wants to be the best she can be. Some people say that Justine comes across as aloof perhaps its all lost in translation? Henin’s first language is French and not English.

Martina Hingis has the personality that Henin lacks, she will speak her mind about anyone and everyone on the WTA. Although Hingis returned to the WTA last year and reached the top ten.

I wasn’t convinced that her second comeback was so remarkable as the media claimed. For instance, Hingis never got past the quarterfinals of any of the slams she played in 2006 and 2007.

She always lost to one of the top five players. Hingis has the pride of a champion she clearly was not satisfied with her satisfactory grand slam results.

Martina realized she no longer was one of the elite players but now just a shadow of her former self.

In professional tennis, you cannot just spin a serve in you cannot serve slow the way Hingis did and expect to be top five in the world. Hingis shots just didn’t have the sting and power that was necessary to compete with the best players.

Lindsay Davenport also had a comeback this year and I believe she will be more successful in 2008. One of the reasons I believe Davenport is coming back is she may be a bit envious of the Williams Sisters success at the grand slams this year.

Once again just like 2005 Serena and Venus proved they can still win the major titles. The American tennis critics are silent because they really can’t say anything “negative” about the Williams Sisters.

Davenport just had a child this year and yet she enters an event in Bali defeats world number three Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and wins the title. Davenport also just won a tier III event in Quebec City on Sunday. Davenport now has fifty three WTA tour titles she’s tied with Monica Seles for the eight best all time record title victories on the WTA tour.

I believe Davenport can compete with the best players despite being thirty one years old because she has the serve and power Martina Hingis lacks. Lindsay’s serve is so huge and powerful she also has an incredible amount of power.

I feel Lindsay hits the ball harder then any other woman on the WTA tour. I think Lindsay hits the ball as hard as some of the men.

Davenport has three problems her mind, fitness, and age.

Although later on in Lindsay’s career she did address the fitness issue, she is also almost six foot three. Since Lindsay is so tall its harder for her to change positions and move. Lindsay was never blessed with the natural fluid movement and speed of the Williams Sisters, Amelie Mauresmo, and Justine Henin. Davenport was never an athletic player. Davenport appeared slow at times when playing the faster more fitter players.

Everyone knows the way to beat Lindsay is simply to redirect the ball and keep her off balance. The best players know how to move Lindsay consistently around the court she usually gets tired and makes a lot of unforced errors and loses. The top players are relentless in exposing Lindsay’s lack of mobility. Davenport also lacked variety in her game.

Lindsay is almost six foot three inches tall so why does she hang on the baseline? Davenport has long arms and long legs she should be at the net a lot more often. Lindsay also hardly drop shots, uses lobs, or a one handed slice backhand she just isn’t as naturally talented as the Williams Sisters, Justine Henin, or Amelie Mauresmo.

The key for Davenport will be her fitness if she’s not 110% fit she will be beaten by the top players on a consistent basis and experience the same wall of resistance that Hingis experienced.

Davenport tends to be consistent in the regular WTA tour events but she always choked in the grand slam semifinals or finals. At times Davenport lacked the confidence to believe she could win more grand slams she simply crumbled under the pressure.

In the year 2005, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals Davenport had leads against Serena and Venus yet she folded mentally losing both matches in spectacular fashion.

Davenport also capitulated in 2004, Wimbledon and US OPEN events losing to Russians Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Davenport has another problem and that’s her age. Davenport is older, so she will have to choose her events very wisely next year. The young Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic are only going to get better and better.

The younger players are hungry it will be interesting to see how Davenport competes against the young and the older players on the WTA. Davenport’s lack of mobility also hurt her against the speed, consistency, and power of the Williams Sisters and Justine Henin.

However, I feel that Davenport can win another slam she has more game then Hingis. She obviously is coming back because she is determined to win some more grand slams. Lindsay believes there are really only three or four players she has to worry about the Williams Sisters, Maria Sharapova, and Justine Henin.

Lindsay feels she can compete with the very best players on the WTA and still win at the highest level. Davenport won two of the three events she played this fall and that’s incredible given the fact she was gone for over a year. Lindsay can beat most of the players fairly easily that’s obvious.

Davenport’s win over Jankovic in Bail will give her a lot of confidence. However, the win over Jankovic is just one win it wasn’t in a pressure cooker situation such as a grand slam event.

Davenport has returned to women’s tennis because she believes she can beat the best players. It will be an uphill battle for Lindsay but it is not impossible. For instance, if some of the top players lose early at a grand slam then this could be the easiest way for Davenport to slip through and win another major.

Justine Henin is at another level though and Davenport hasn’t beaten her in years. It will be interesting to see Davenport’s results at the 2008 grand slam events. I think it will be a mixture of luck and also drive that could help Davenport win another slam.

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