Posts Tagged ‘Nadia Petrova’

PostHeaderIcon Ask Marla #8 – Tips for the Off-Season (Pt. 2 Off-Season Training)

Novak Djokovic stretching

This is the second of a three-part series (Take Stock/Take Time Off, Training Tips for Upcoming Season, and Equipment Changes) that will focus on things you can do to help your game during the off-season.

Sam Stosur jumping rope
Nadia Petrova stretching
Marion Bartoli drilling her groundstrokes
David Ferrer working his core

Question: Do you have any tips/suggestion for off-season training? What should I focus on to help improve my game for the upcoming season?

Answer: Here are three (3) things to remember as you start training in the off-season.

1. Set goals!

Give yourself specific goals for the upcoming season. Whether it’s serve consistency, playing more doubles, or working on your fitness, etc. Just remember to keep them simple and attainable, with a mix of both short-term and long-term goals. If possible, try to set goals that you can measure and track as you go along.

2. Work on your game!

Pick one or two things you want to work on in the off-season, and take the time to work on them. Getting together with friends for practice drills is an excellent way to work on your game. It’s okay to play occasional practice sets, but try to keep the focus on drills. If all you do is compete year-round, it’s easy to develop bad habits that will keep you from improving.

3. Work on your fitness!

This is the perfect time to strengthen key muscle groups that can help your game AND prevent injury. Take the time to develop your rotator cuffs and surrounding muscle groups in your shoulders. Work on your core to help stave off lower back issues. And stretch, stretch, stretch! Working on your flexibility is also a great way to help with injury prevention.

Got a tennis question? Send it via email or tweet for “Ask Marla”, a (hopefully) weekly (or biweekly) question-and-answer with Marla Reid of San Francisco’s City Racquet Shop.

About Marla

Marla Reid is a respected tennis pro/coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s coached nationally-ranked teams and players, and has over 15 years of experience at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. Marla owns and operates City Racquet Shop in San Francisco CA.

About City Racquet Shop

City Racquet Shop offers, superior products/services, outstanding customer service, and a community-oriented destination for tennis players to shop, hang out and talk about tennis.

City Racquet Shop online:
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PostHeaderIcon Rafa, Roger, and the Upset Contagion

Steve Darcis - Chris Raphael/AELTC

Steve Darcis – Chris Raphael/AELTC

As I reflect upon the first two rounds of Wimbledon action, I’m reminded of the movie “Contagion”. Replace the deadly virus with an upset virus, and Patient Zero Gwyneth Paltrow with Patient Zero Rafa Nadal, and that’s pretty describes the first four days of this year’s fortnight.

It started with Rafa and his straight-sets upset at the hands of Steve Darcis. This was followed by upsets of Stan Wawrinka and Fabio Fognini. The men weren’t the only ones to fall victim to this bug, as we found out when Sara Errani also succumbed in Day One action.

The next day got worse with Maria Kirilenko, Sam Querrey, Gilles Simon, Nadia Petrova, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all becoming victims of the upset bug.

Sergiy Stakhovsky - Matthias Hangst/AELTC

Sergiy Stakhovsky – Matthias Hangst/AELTC

By the end of Day Four, the situation had spiraled out of control with the collective defeats of the aforementioned along with Ana Ivanovic, Roger Federer, Julien Benneteau, Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Sorana Cirstea, Shuai Peng, Milos Raonic, and Mona Barthel.

The progression of the virus slowed dramatically by Day Five, but still managed to bring down Nicolas Almagro, Angelique Kerber, and Grigor Dimitrov. The totality of the carnage was a horror-show by any stretch of the imagination!

Upsets happen all the time in tennis, but this particular epidemic was unprecedented!  By the third round, only 10 players remained of the twenty combined top ten seeds for both the men and the women. This is the worst performance by top 10 seeds at a Slam in the Open era.

It’s as if all of these upsets actually did start as the result of a contagion, like in the movie. Perhaps Rafa came back from his match, accidentally coughed on a water fountain in the player’s lounge that Stan and Sara drank from, and started the spread in that manner.

Though an “upset contagion” would make for good drama, there’s really a simpler explanation at work; and it does, in fact, start with Rafa.

When Steve Darcis beat Rafa (and Monica Puig beat Sara), players who previously never gave themselves a shot in these types of matches began to have hope; and hope is a powerful thing.  If Darcis could beat a two-time Wimbledon champion and the player with the best record of the year in straight sets, why couldn’t they?

Victoria Azarenka - Steven Wake/AELTC

Victoria Azarenka – Steven Wake/AELTC

Add in a few well-placed injury tumbles by some other top players that further opened the draws, and a real belief developed (in the lower-ranked players) that anyone could be beaten in this tournament in a given match.

“Hope” and “Belief” became the contagion. Even the belief was completely unfounded, that didn’t seem to matter. An upset could still happen. Case in point: No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky defeating No. 3 (and 7-time champion) Roger Federer!

Like all outbreaks, this one subsided fairly quickly. But the damage had already been done. Also not surprisingly, many of the players who’d gained belief in order to pull off their initial upsets lost it by the next round, and lost. The natural order began to reassert itself, albeit with severely-thinned ranks at the top.

This probably won’t happen again for quite some time. Historic upheavals in a Grand Slam draw are, by their very nature, not common. But it will be interesting to see if these circumstances present themselves again in the next few Slams.  If it does, then it won’t be merely the upheaval caused by an upset outbreak.

It could very well mean the imminent changing of the guard.

PostHeaderIcon After 4 Days, It’s Time for Updated Quarterfinal Picks!

Upsets and Withdrawals have been the rule of the day since the US Open started on Monday. Yet even with all the tournament shenanigans, my quarterfinal picks in the top half are holding strong. The bottom half leaves a little to be desired with the ousters of Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova. Let’s fill in that spot with one of the remaining contenders.

The Women

Caroline / Andrea:  Caroline in 3 sets.
Serena / Jelena:  Serena in 2 sets.
Maria / Petra:  Maria in 2 sets. >>> Maria / Lucie: Maria in 2 sets.
Vera / Marion:  Vera in 2 sets. >>> Vera / Sam: Sam in 3 sets.

With Petra’s loss it’s pretty much a wasteland in that section of the quarter. Just for the heck of it, I’ll pick Lucie Safarova to progress. But honestly, there’s no one who will get past Maria… as long as she can get her serves into play. And sometimes even when she can’t!

With Marion’s loss to Christina McHale, the draw opened WAY up for some of the other competitors in this quarter. Christina has had some good wins, but she’s not quite strong enough to make it to the quarters (though I would never say never at this point). Sam Stosur, Maria Kirilenko, and Nadia Petrova round out the remaining contenders from this section. I’m not sure who will take it between Christina and Maria K., but Nadia is not going to be able to pull off the upset over Sam. Sam is playing too well for the (often) fragile Nadia to conquer.

Even better is the fact that Sam has a winning record against Vera (Zvonarea). If Vera makes it to the quarters this will be a great chance for Sam to make it through to the semi-finals. The last two matches have gone the distance, and I expect this one to do the same. Unfortunately I think Maria will clean up her act by the semis and that will be it for Sam. It mostly depends on how patchy Maria is serving, but Maria should still have the confidence to know she can win. With Sam you never know. Maria likes 3-setters, so I’ll say Maria in 3 sets.

Semi-final — Maria / Sam: Maria in 3 sets.

The Men

Novak / Tomas: Novak in 4 sets.
Roger / Mardy: Roger in 4 sets.
Andy (M.) / John: Andy in 4 sets.
Rafael / David: Rafa in 5 sets.

Apart from the elimination of my wildcard Gael by Juan Carlos Ferrero, my men’s quarterfinal picks are holding strong. YAY!
Two more rounds to go for both the men and women. Let’s see how long these picks can last.

PostHeaderIcon Is Christina McHale the next “real deal”?

Christina MchaleIs Christina McHale the real deal?

Without much hype or fanfare, Christina McHale has been putting together a pretty good year for a newcomer on the WTA tour. Sure, she’s maybe not the first player that comes to mind when you think of women’s tennis. But for American women’s tennis, that could be changing if her results keep improving.

Christina is 19 and hails from New Jersey. Her rise has been slow and steady marked by lots of hard work. Whenever you hear any of the big guns of tennis talk about her, the first thing mentioned is always how hard she works. She has trained at John McEnroe’s NY training facility and has impressed him with her work ethic. Even better, she seems to be continually learning about her game, her temperament, and how to get through tough matches. After one particularly brutal loss to Sara Errani from Italy earlier this year (where she let a huge third set lead slip away and turn into a loss), she gave herself one week and then hit the challenger circuit just so she could get back into matches and not let the loss cripple her.

Ya gotta admire that kind of spirit.

She’s had some great wins over some quality players during the US Open series, beating Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati and and Svetlana Kuznetsova in New Haven. Unfortunately she doesn’t have the size or weight of shot to compete with some of the other women on tour. After beating Caroline, she lost in straights to an over-powering Nadia Petrova.

Comparisons to Melanie Oudin could easily come to mind because of their age. But Christina is no Melanie Oudin. Melanie was thrust into a spotlight she didn’t warrant because of a good run at the US Open. But neither she nor her game were ready for that spotlight. Christina has had solid results, and has gotten better as the year has progressed. It’s allowed her to keep the focus where it needs to be at and not on the expectations of others (fans, media, etc).

I hope it stays that way. We’re gonna need solid players like her to step up when we lose Serena, Venus, Bethanie, Lisa, and Liezel.

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