Nick Bollettieri: Wimbledon Dossier
Venus' sheer athleticism shuts out Sharapova
Friday 01 July 2005
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.
Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Gabriel Paulista sent to Paris to speed up move; Luis Suarez bid planned; Gunners eye Daniele Rugani
Gabriel Paulista: Talented Brazilian could grow into world-class defender at Arsenal
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Pair finally meet at NBA game and shake hands, will the fight be announced during Super Bowl?
Andy Murray vs Tomas Berydch: Murray cool over reunion with coach Dani Vallverdu at the Australian Open
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea new deal; Gareth Bale on speculation; Wilfried Zaha exit
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures