Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: Radwanska must start with guns blazing
Today's Big Match: Venus Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska
Tuesday 30 June 2009
Before we discuss this quarter-final, let's deal with the issue of Ana Ivanovic. She's missing something, mentally and physically, and that's a big problem for her, and it's a shame. She was taking a real beating from Venus before she retired injured in their fourth-round match. Nobody except the player herself can know what's truly wrong in a situation like this but I know Ivanovic said afterwards she thought she was doing OK in the match, which is also worrying. Something's up and she needs to fix it.
Venus is a big hitter, on the offensive all the time. She was like that in the set that was played yesterday and she'll be like that today against Radwanska.
Like all great champions, Venus steps up on the big points and finds the best of herself when it's needed. In the first game yesterday, the score went back and forth around deuce and it looked like Ana might break her. But of course Venus wouldn't let that happen and she motored through.
By staying involved in every game and every point, Venus frustrates opponents, and frustration is a good way to make a player over-hit. Everything depends on Venus again today. If she's at the ball game, I can't see her losing. I don't see her being beaten although nobody is without vulnerability. Radwanska's two chances are slim and none but there are things she can do to improve the odds.
She should try to make Venus hit forehands on the run, because if there's one area where Venus has looked a little shaky, it's that forehand. But it's easier said than done. Radwanska should make a huge effort to start strong and go for the jugular.
We've known about Radwanska for a good few years now. She won the girls' title at Wimbledon in 2005 when she was 16 and has made the step up to the main tour that so many juniors fail to negotiate. She's not going to blow Venus away with power but she's got a game that functions on all surfaces, has solid groundstrokes, a good forehand, and watch for her inside-out forehand.
I'm not sure that against Venus, who has a special affinity with Wimbledon, Radwanska's armoury will be enough. Venus has awesome power but she also has finesse.
If her serve is on, and as long as she's healthy, I can't see a problem. Venus herself said of her taped-up leg, "I'm still smiling" and a sportsman's life is "tape and ice and all". That doesn't sound too downbeat to me.
Tale of the tape
Venus Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska
American Nationality Polish
29 Age 20
Lymwood, CA Place of birth Krakow
Palm Beach, FL Residence Krakow
1994 Turned pro 2005
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
6ft 1in Height 5ft 8in
72kg Weight 56kg
No 3 World ranking No 14
No 3 Wimbledon seeding No 11
41 Career titles 4
£12m Career prize-money £1.2m
W62 L7 Wimbledon record W13 L3
W (5 times) Wimbledon best QF (2008, 09)
1-6 Odds 5-1
Head-to-head: Williams leads 3-1
Win a week in Florida at my tennis academy
*Want a week's tennis holiday at my academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition, accommodation in our poolside clubhouse, and all meals. The winner arranges the travel. All you have to do is email to tell me who will win today's big match. I want a specific score line, and as a tie-breaker, a one-sentence summary of the manner in which your pick will win. At the end of the tournament, all the daily winners will go into a hat, and one overall winner will be picked from there. Yesterday's winner will be announced tomorrow. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to meeting the winner.
Improve your game: Consistent service toss
*Got a tennis problem? Email me and I'll try to help out. Today's question comes from Linda Major of Putney, London, who writes: "I am slightly ambidextrous. I write and play tennis right-handed and play golf left-handed, yet am unable to toss the ball in the same place each time for the serve. Practice just makes my arm ache." I don't think it's your ambidextrousness. Try the simple solution first. Shorten your serve motion and lower the height of your toss. If that works, you can also go higher again.
The A to Z of Bollettieri: Snapshots from 53 years as a top tennis coach
*O is for Orlando, which is where I first heard of Monica Seles, who was playing in an event at Disneyland. She was a skinny kid, she hit two-handed from both sides. I subsequently followed her at the Orange Bowl, and offered her a scholarship. Determination, work ethic and belief were ingrained before she was tall enough to go on theme-park rides.
*P is for Phenomenon, as in Roger Federer, tennis phenomenon, heading for sole ownership of the all-time record for men's Slam singles titles. Very rarely does a sportsman or woman transcend their sport to become a global hero to people who don't even follow their sport. Michael Jordan did, and Tiger Woods. And Federer has. I believe him to be the greatest player of all time. His dismissal of Robin Soderling yesterday was another step to 15 Slams.
*Q is for Queue, a place you won't find me spending much time, whatever's on offer at the other end of it. Hats off to Wimbledon's many thousands of dedicated fans who queue for days but it's not for me.
Coaching report: German tyro thunders on
It was another good day yesterday for a Bollettieri academy resident when Sabine Lisicki, a 19-year-old who is on the verge of the big time, shocked Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. I sent Sabine an email afterwards. The gist was, "You're becoming a real player now, people will want a piece of you. Stay close to your dad, don't get distracted, take care of business."
Sabine's game is very, very simple. It's wang, bang, over. Her serve is as big as any players on the tour, Venus included. Sabine takes the ball early, stepping in, and hits it flat with no spin. She whacks the crap out of the thing. She's fearless.
She's only 19 but she's a big girl and she moves very well despite her size. She won Charleston this year, beating Venus on the way.
She's very polite, a delightful kid with great parents. Her dad, Dr Richard Lisicki, is her coach. Her mother Elizabeth, is an artist and a lovely woman. Sabine is utterly dedicated to her tennis. Now she's got the biggest test of her career in a Slam to date, facing the No 1 seed Dinara Safina. Sabine can be pleased she reached the quarters.
Was that a court or a greenhouse?
So Wimbledon's brand new roof got it's first match yesterday when Safina played Amélie Mauresmo and won in three, with the match ending beneath the lid.
I wasn't on court but it looked odd as hell, more like a hothouse than a tennis court. It appeared, initially at least, to be hot and humid in there.
I was going to suggest the All England Club start growing some plants at the edge of the court. Maybe some bananas. It looked sweaty, too, although when the air con had been running it did, by all accounts, cool down.
My boys keep on rocking into the quarter-finals
Right back at the start of the tournament I said that Tommy Haas could be a dark horse and he had another good win yesterday to set up a quarter-final meeting with Novak Djokovic. It wasn't nearly as nervy as his five-setter in the third round.
Knowing Tommy well, because he's still based at the academy, I knew he was feeling good because he just kept on coming in.
Ivo Karlovic marches on too, after another massive serving day, against Fernando Verdasco, took him through. Ivo spent a month in Florida with us and we worked on a few different parts of his game.
I can't stress how much of a nice guy he is, very quiet and very polite, and steely when he's working but a gentleman. He faces the best of all time next. We'll come back to that tomorrow.
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