Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sania... and a gloat!

Sania Mirza is probably the most talented player Indian Tennis has seen yet. She has the groundstrokes, she has the power, she has the appetite for competition.

What she lacks is that one factor that separates the champions from the also rans: Consistency!

- She has the ability to hit an excellent groundstroke to set up a point, but lacks the consistency to follow it up with another one to finish off the point.
- She can hit an excellent approach shot, but totally botch up the volley.
- She can break serve, but lacks the consistency to hold her own & wrap up a set.

All of this is on display in her match against an obviously downhill Venus. She had the former Wimbledon champion on the run, but allowed Venus to come back & dominate the match.

Her talent is obvious. What is not so obvious is that she isn't in great hands at the moment!

She needs a Nick Bolletieri to coach her. He's the kind of coach who infuses players with consistent shotmaking & rallying ability. He's the kind that helps players improve their basics. Sania's groundstrokes & volleying, maybe even her serve would definitely benefit from a longish stint with Bolletieri. Not to mention that he would work her to the point that she isn't lugging around any left-over puppy fat!

Indian coaches & managers shouldn't lose heart. They've done their bit by getting her up to this point. Now it's time for them to take a bow & let the other's take Sania to her destination.

One thing to remember is that the people who've coached/guiding Sania uptil now have themselves not achieved much at the international level.

One has to pick coaches accoring to the need of the hour. Even Agassi needed a tour veteran like Brad Gilbert to teach him how to pull off matches despite not playing one's best!

So Sania, please go to Bolletieri for about a year. And that is when you WILL triumph over players of Venus' calibre. Consistently!

Edit: As I was hitting "Publish Post", I heard the crowd applaud Sania's spirited performance. Or was it Venus' victory?

... And I was right!

- Fedex came through in a 5 setter despite playing well below par.
- Team India stopped the Australian cheating machine in it's tracks. India will be remembered for snapping the Aussies match winning streak on the most acrimonious tour in recent history. Somehow the last acrimonious tour I remember was one that involved the Aussies too! Remember the Sri Lankans? That tour came back to bite the Aussies in the backside! Sri Lanka made Oz their # 1 enemy & demolished the myth of Aussie supremacy convincingly in the next World Cup.
Has Australia done India that favour this time? Have they managed to awaken Indian pride? Permanently? Only the 4th Test (& then some more) will tell.

Edit: In a later match Hewitt overcame the immensely talented youngster Baghdatis in a see-saw 5 set battle.
Don't misread me as an Aussie hater here, but I'm not too fond of Hewitt either, specially after his flirt with racism in that infamous match against James Blake.
The Aussies seem like some of the most misbehaved people on the planet. I speak from personal experience. I met a bunch of them at a party & they were making an absolute nuisance of themselves! They of course seemed to believe that they were having fun. Much like the eve-teasers that infest India.

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