Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power


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It’s the long and the short of it today when Petra Kvitova, a  six-footer, takes on little Kurumi Nara, who at 5ft 1in is just about the shortest player on the tour. One of the great things about our sport is that a good big ’un doesn’t necessarily always beat a good little ’un and Nara finished last year as a top-50 player.

But obviously Kvitova is a big favourite in this match-up. How does Nara give herself the best chance? Simple. Go for winners. Don’t try to hit with her; if she does that, she loses. She’s got to throw in junk balls, high balls, chop and slice, because she won’t win by firepower. Kvitova is a loaded missile but Nara has none of that ammunition.

What she has, like the best Japanese players, is movement and solid strokes. But in her case, not a big weapon, which makes it very difficult.

I watched Petra’s first-round match for the BBC when she beat Kiki Bertens – who’s no bad player, by the way – in 35 minutes. She was just dynamite. That was some way to start the defence of your title and all her qualities were on show. You could see just why she has won here twice.

She has a dynamite leftie serve, a huge forehand, hitting the ball very early, plus a solid two-handed backhand. So when you have that leftie cross-court forehand and the breaking serve to the ad court, she’s dangerous. Best of all, she likes playing attacking tennis.

That can carry a risk, though. I always say, if you go to Vegas and try to roll a seven or an 11 every single time, you’re gonna crap out. But just play conservative tennis and she’d never be a winner.

The only way Nara can win is if Kvitova beats herself. But one little red flag here for Petra: don’t go bazooka. If you do that and you’re having one of those days when nothing goes right, then anything can happen. Which is another thing we love about tennis.Kvitova.jpg

Don’t moan about the heat, just prepare and keep going

I love the way you Brits obsess about the weather and it sure is good to see the sun shining here instead of the covers coming on and off. But let me tell you, it really should not worry players who are used to the Australian Open in Melbourne or the US Open.

I remember one time in Melbourne we got to 115 Fahrenheit (46 Centigrade) on the court – the players’ feet were burning. But don’t forget they train in this type of weather, too.

At the IMG Academy in Florida I always insist they just train whatever the weather and whatever the time of day. Get the hell out there and play through it. The more you make of the conditions, the more there is in the media, the more players will think about it and it can become a mental problem. Accept and play. You accept what’s there and get on with it, remembering the conditions are just the same for the guy or girl on the other side of the net. If they’re not, if there’s a little shade on one side, that’s why you change ends after every other game.

If it’s going to be real heatwave stuff, one important thing is preparation the night before: getting a lot of liquids in. These days, of course, the players have advice from professional dieticians and nutritionists. At the academy we do a lot of work with Gatorade, who have a whole research centre there. It’s all very different from the old times when you just went out and played. And the women’s tour long ago introduced their heat rule for a 10-minute break before a third set in certain conditions.

But what you still never know is how it just might affect one player at any time. That’s the great unknown factor that we can’t control. So the advice to anyone, especially an underdog, is “stay in there, baby”. You never know what the good man upstairs has in store.


Watson has shown the guts to earn her glory

I’ve been around Wimbledon plenty of years in the past when there’s been doom and gloom about British tennis, so it’s been good to see some of the men other than Andy Murray coming up with great performances and results. It’s all experience – and you can’t buy that at the deli – even for those like Liam Broady who came through one round and find the next one just too tough. That backing from a home crowd ought to inspire a player.

Having worked with Heather Watson, I was especially pleased to see her win that first-round match on Tuesday and then reach the third round in such style yesterday. Having a match held over from the night before can be a tricky thing for a player who was on top at the time. That was the sort of match she needed, one where she’s been counted out by some people. It’s that attitude to say “I’ll do it”. She’s been working very hard, especially on a lot of tough physical drills and the two matches showed it’s paying off. She can take that forward for the rest of the year.