Nick Bollettieri: Wimbledon Dossier

Venus' sheer athleticism shuts out Sharapova

Tenacity, electricity, brilliance. You saw them all last night in Venus Williams' face, pace and shots. They all played their part in her incredible victory over Maria Sharapova yesterday. But the single factor that settled it was that Venus was just too darn good, physically, for Maria to live with. Her movement was exceptional, her athleticism superb. She got so many more balls back than other opponents manage against Maria, and was hitting brilliantly.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Venus and Serena Williams were, and still have the capacity to be, the two finest female athletes in history. Serena is clearly a way away from that now. Venus is getting back there, and yesterday was evidence of that.

In my preview of the match, I said it was too close to call, that maybe a little bit of nerves would work against Maria. I don't think nerves were actually a factor. I think she just got tired. She got worn down. She did not play badly. But she just isn't used to playing so many long rallies.

In the middle of the first set, there were rallies of 12, 13 and 14 shots. The penultimate game of the match alone had 14 points, and five of them had rallies of six shots or more. Venus just kept getting that ball back. Maria was tired into submission. That was the story for me.

The other semi-final was interrupted by rain at one set each and with Amélie Mauresmo, who'd played some great tennis, serving to stay in the match at 5-3 down. Coping effectively with rain delays and breaks is about knowing how your player ticks. Some want to keep active, exercise or hit balls. Others prefer a fixed routine, to be by themselves, are contemplative, or maybe a little annoyed. Some players like a moan, saying it's not fair that the rain comes when they're winning. I say to them: "Listen, buddy, life ain't fair. The fact is it's raining. You can't argue with the man upstairs about why. Either we accept it or we let it wash us away. What do you pick?"

Others want company. Monica Seles spent delays with her parents. Andre Agassi played backgammon, and liked his manager, Bill Shelton, to sing Nat King Cole songs to him. Jim Courier would often want to use the time to talk strategy. It's all down to a player's mentality.

Trevor Moawad, the director of our mental conditioning department at the academy, illustrates the power of the mind with a true story about an engineer who got locked in a refrigerated train carriage by accident. His body was found after a few days, and he'd written on the walls about getting increasingly cold, and then freezing. It turned out the refrigeration unit hadn't been functioning. The guy literally thought himself to death. Brains are powerful machines. Marry that with physical excellence, as Venus did yesterday, and you won't get beaten often.

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor