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The Silent Struggle 06/06/2008 - 1:16 PM

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A couple of colleagues and I had a little time with Ana Ivanovic today, and I happened to see her alone just as Rafael Nadal was starting to roll in his match against Novak Djokovic, before the formal interview began. I asked if she had seen the story we collaborated on recently for Play magazine.

"Yes," she said, enthusiastically, adding. "I put it up on my website, did you see it?"

I confessed I hadn't yet, and we chit-chatted a bit about the mechanics of her serve, which was less of a Gift than a millstone at times during her win over Jelena Jankovic yesterday. It's hard to get an accurate impression of Ivanovic from the television, although it may be more realistic - and in keeping with our times -  to say it's hard to know the "real" Ana in person. That's a pretty sick idea, I know. But the reality is that nearly everyone knows her from the box or the web, so she invariably gets boxed in and caught up in a web of perception that becomes - like it or not - the dominant reality.

In person, Ana doesn't really suggest the anodyne, formidably pretty and proper girl that she may appear to be on court. For one thing, she's much taller, and more slender, than she appears on the box. And when she's not focused on her tennis, she's giggly - not vacuous or airhead giggly, but shy, tall girl giggly. She's a master of the self-conscious laugh that really means: Oh God, somebody is talking to me, I'd better not let on that I'm feeling a little self-conscious and insecure here! I say this because I sense that some people think Ivanovic is cultivating an image, or artfully concealing her inner (rhymes with) vitch. I don't think that's fair or accurate. Face-to-face, she's nowhere near as self-controlled and poised as she appears on the court.

Overhead where we sat, Nadal was whacking monster forehands at Djokovic. But we were torn away and ushered into a small room for the official interview. Nadal remained on her mind tough, because at one point, ESPN's Bonnie Ford asked if she sought to cultivate Nadal-like intensity, upon which she grew really animated, saying:

Ana_2 "Oh God, especially on clay! I just watched a few games and the heaviness of his ball, it's something. When I'm on court now, I try to imitate that." Perhaps she felt she was confessing a guilty pleasure, because she colored and laughed. "But it's unbelievable how he puts so much pressure on an opponent. They must think, "What I got to do, hit three lines to win a point?" We can learn from that and put it in our tennis."

"Your forehand looked pretty good in that last game or two yesterday," I ventured.

"I tried to do his forehand," Ana said, suddenly carving out an air forehand that conveyed to idea. Then she broke down laughing, as if the very idea was preposterous. Turning serious again, she said, "Really, I tried it with my sparring partner, because when he hit that way I could feel how much heavier it is to hit back.  I think I should think more about the spin than try to flatten out the shot."

While Ana was articulating her Rafa wannabe fantasies, I couldn't help but think back to the earlier press conference with Dinara Safina. At that event, Safina spend a good amount of time confessing to waging a struggle not often acknowledged but common to players of her class.I cherry-picked the presser for these three quotes; that Safina went back to the subject so frequently itself is telling:

"So I started to deal with my emotions and I accept some things if they're not going my way.  So I say, Okay, it's not going my way.  I have to find something else. So maybe the years before I would say, Oh, I'm so unlucky.  I cannot do this.  So I would start to not even look for the answers.  But now I'm trying every time, Okay, this is not working, but I'm going to find other solutions to still win a match when I'm not playing my best. "

Then:  "Now, like even it was set of 5 2, maybe before it would be third set I would still fight.  But like I could say all the match were in their hands. Then I would say I would just not play anymore, like would not fight for that.  But now I'm like, Okay, I'm still going to hang in there and still maybe give extra ball, extra shot, or maybe do something else.So I start to always kind of search for something in the match.

Dinara And this: "As I said, I just have to go there and focus on myself, to play my game. It's going to be, again, the one who first start to dominate the point.  Because she likes to be aggressive, and I want also to be aggressive. So just the one who is going to be more aggressive and who take the incentive in the point is going to win.

Finally: "It just comes from the mind.  If in your mind kind of you want to be aggressive, you start already move much aggressive. You start to look like at the ball more, because you know you have to take your chances.  It's just the way you take it, I think"

The common theme here is neither the challenge of remaining positive, nor the importance of playing aggessively. It's the inner battle to do those things - an inner battle that is frequently a determining factor in tennis, as we saw in Ivanovic's semifinal yesterday. Having to fight that battle on court is a distraction, and it drains emotions and energy that might be better spent on something else Winning that battle for good  - meaning that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have to have that grinding inner dialogue with yourself - is critical to becoming a Grand Slam champ instead of journeyman or even an unpredictable, inconsistent contender (Sveta, Marat, are you out there?).

One reason the best players win so often is because that struggle is long over; the smoke on the battlefield has cleared and dead and wounded former selves have all been carted off. The best players are free to focus on things, petty details, considerations and awarenesses, that are nowhere near as significant, but happen to be the luxuries with which the great competitors can fill their medicine chests. Isn't it striking, how freely and imperturbably the best players compete? Wouldn't it be great to have trained your mind so well that a Grand Slam final is, at least in the terms we're contemplating here, really just another match, decided by how you match up with an opponent, and how well you play?

Ivanovic conceded that she was in a unique, pressure-filled situation yesterday. In fact, he coach Sven Groeneveld's major pre-match task, according to Ana, was making sure that nobody who would come into contact with her before the final leaked the news that a victory would earn her the number no. 1 ranking. If, like me, you were thinking, "No way she didn't know about that," you were, like me, wrong. She laughed as she expressed her sympathy for Sven having such an unenviable task.

"No, no, no," she insisted, "I really did not know. "They (Sven and her entourage) just didn't want me to have one more big thing on my mind in the match. They worked hard to make sure I would not be told."

I don't always put much stock in the "experience" factor; in and of itself, it's neither a good nor bad thing. Safina has a lot of experience, and the fact that  until recently, not all of it has been good is still fresh in her mind. Some of those goblins might demand to be revisited, should things not go well for her. Ivanovic had a profound test yesterday and, despite a shaky start, she won the battle to stay positive, to remain aggressive. I don't know if it was her last, triumphant engagement on that front, butthe story of her last 12 months is largely the tale of how she's been prevailing in the clash that weighed so heavily on her final opponent's mind today.

It's funny, but wasn't it just yesterday that the story line in tennis was how refreshing it was to see the trio of emerging Serbian stars, pulling together to draw attention to, and bring honor upon, their recently stressed nation? It seems so different today, with Djokovic transcending his roots to become an internationally acclaimed star, living the life in Monte Carlo and chewing alternately on Roger Federer's or Rafael Nadal's behind? And the way Serbian girls rocketed to the top swiftly swept aside any notion that they were a Serbian tag-team, and forced upon them the honor of rivalry, which is essentially always a position of conflict (until you just get so old and weary that, like Chris and Martina, you stop even pretending that you have it in for each other).

I flew this idea by Ana, while we were talking about the way Jankovic mimicked her fist pump yesterday, milking it for laughs. She seemed to understand, and said, "Yes, I saw that, I just kind of turned and saw it out of the corner of my eye." She went to say, "Last year, all of us made huge step for Serbia, it was big boom. this year we came back as completely different players, trying to win titles."

She didn't have to fill in the rest of the sentence; Jankovic had done it, in an otherwise banal moment  in her press conference yesterday. She was asked the simple question: How do you think the final will go?  She replied:

"I don't know. I lost in the semifinal, and for me this tournament is over, and I'm thinking about my rest. I'm not thinking about the final."

I thought it a telling remark, what happened to Serbia? But new realities are in play, these two girls belong to the world now and the world, not just Serbia, belongs to them.  Ana Ivanovic is fully prepared and ready to win her first Grand Slam title. One more battle to go, and if Dinara has to fight hers in the mind, Ivanovic will prevail in the one decided in the material world, on clay.


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Posted by jerell 06/06/2008 at 01:45 PM

I thought i was first but i probably knw im not since i actually read the whole piece.

Well, I still feel that Jelena Jankovic is jealous of Ana Ivanovic. Anyway, two Serbs down, one to go. And Ivanovic will win in a classic tomorrow over Safina. This is going to be great match.
7-5, 4-6, 10-8

Posted by jerell 06/06/2008 at 01:46 PM

what do you know, I am first. haha

Posted by jb 06/06/2008 at 02:00 PM

hey pete! nice defense of ana. it amazes me that some people (not to lump - just saw a couple comments) think they KNOW that she's not all she seems.

SInce they've never met her, or even spoken to her, or known anyone who has met her or spoken to her or interacted in anyway... how the hail can the KNOW she's hiding a dark underbelly of meanness?

*shrugs* so thanks for attempting to set that straight.

Also interesting quotes from dinara. Funny, i was just thinking about these players having to deal with their mental demons, hopes, pressures etc all on court, in front of a crowd. Or worse, in an empty stadium... and just slogging away with noone to applaud.

I think the careless way we tend sometimes to dismiss a player's effort or their wilanders simply doesn't give them enough credit.

ah well - enjoy the last couple days - and thanks for all the great posts, I've been enjoying them immensely!

Posted by Vivek 06/06/2008 at 02:00 PM

With a score like that, you're dreaming. I think Safina has a pretty good shot at it, since shes been on fire the last two weeks, but like that Marat character, shes prone to mental meltdowns at inopportune moments. I say Ivanovic in three, but no way its going 10-8 in the third. Ivanovic is simply a better player than Safina...

Posted by skip1515 06/06/2008 at 02:02 PM

Really, really enjoyable, Pete. Thanks. When you make the case for the head over the arms and legs, as you do here, you're preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned, but this is as good a case for that perspective as you've ever put forth.

On what is the distaff side of the tour, from Ana and Dinara's perspective, one has to wonder if in tomorrow's men's final Federer will be able to dispel the momentary questions and doubts that trip up a competitor. We know no questions enter Nadal's mind on any ball, ever, let alone a match. Ana knows it, too, and is right to want some of that for herself.

Posted by Heidi 06/06/2008 at 02:06 PM

Hey Pete! Nice piece that touches on a lot of good issues. It will be interesting to see if Ana can really step it up and take it tomorrow. Clearly, she's a thinking kind of player -- not that any of them don't think, but she seems very analytical and developmentally focused. As you say, there's that weird vacuum for the best players, where they are at once playing more freely than mere mortals and obsessing over little things that others ignore.

Posted by Orpheo 06/06/2008 at 02:08 PM

No way i could be FIRST!

Posted by Orpheo 06/06/2008 at 02:09 PM

No way i could be TENTH!

Posted by Whitney 06/06/2008 at 02:09 PM

Another great post Pete!

Its interesting - that Ana and Jelena have gone from being compatriots to becoming rivals. I look foward to more high stakes matches from them in the future.

Ana didn't know the number one spot would be decided on the outcome of that match - wow.. I wonder if someone told Jelena? As for tomorrow, I like both players so I don't know who to cheer for. Both would be fulfilling a dream so it will be a good moment no matter who wins.

Posted by frances 06/06/2008 at 02:26 PM

Nope, Pete. Don't buy it.

Posted by ava 06/06/2008 at 02:28 PM

Like someone said nice defense of Ivanovic. I think people presume too much which can be very far from the truth. I have no interest in Ivanovic whatsoever but I think she just comes across as a practical girl....I don't exactly know why. Something about her seems to be above her age like Rafa.
Anyway I hope Dinara will win tomorrow and I know she can. Nothing against Ivanovic, it's just that Safina has been a favorite of mine since seeing her in Berlin.
RAFA AND DINARA FOR FO2008!

Posted by Markic 06/06/2008 at 02:32 PM

Ok Pete, so perhaps I was wrong about her hiding her inner vitch... it was just a hunch. However, I still think Safina's gonna gun her down and yank (ovic?) her around the court with heavy spin. She's also got that great down-the-line backhand, which did for Sharpie and Elena D, and which will prevent Ana from standing too far into her backhand corner (remember when Arantxa used to sting Steffi doing that?). Mats Wilander just said on Eurosport that he complimented her (Safina) on how well she's mixing up her shots. she replied that her new coach, Zeljko Krajan, is trying to encourage her to 'play more like a guy'. She's got more options because she's playing high-percentage tennis.

Hearing that, then reading Ana talk about Nadal makes me wonder: are we on the verge of the masculinisation of women's tennis - the sport becoming a unisex game, rather than one where the sexes play differently? A return to tennis as it was in the 80s?

Posted by Sam 06/06/2008 at 02:43 PM

"Winning that battle for good - meaning that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have to have that grinding inner dialogue with yourself - is critical to becoming a Grand Slam champ instead of journeyman or even an unpredictable, inconsistent contender"

Very well said, Pete.

Posted by Markic 06/06/2008 at 02:50 PM

But actually, is the battle ever over?

Somebody should ask Svetlana Kuznetsova, or Marat Safin, or Lindsay Davenport...

Posted by tommy 06/06/2008 at 02:51 PM

I don't believe that nonsense about Ivanovic not knowing she would be #1.
That's all she talked about. "I want to be #1. I want to be #1."
She knows Justine retired. She knows Sharapova lost. And she knows she played Sharapova in the semis last year.
You're telling us she wasn't thinking about how #1 would turn out next week?
That's all she talks about, when asked what her goals are.

Posted by Pete 06/06/2008 at 02:55 PM

Frances, why am I not surprised?

Posted by Syd 06/06/2008 at 03:02 PM

Thanks Pete, interesting read, as always, and I love it when you're "on the ground" reporting.

** Sven Groeneveld's major pre-match task, according to Ana, was making sure that nobody who would come into contact with her before the final leaked the news that a victory would earn her the number no. 1 ranking. **

Like this was a secret buried at Los Alamos? Everyone knew this but teensy fragile Ana? Aw, come on, I've got a bridge to sell ya.

No offense Pete, but I just can't believe her.

Posted by Sam 06/06/2008 at 03:14 PM

"how the hail can the KNOW she's hiding a dark underbelly of meanness?"

jb: Must be those darn first pumps. ;-)

Posted by Syd 06/06/2008 at 03:19 PM

Also: Great image of Safina; Look at the musculature of that shoulder and arm—some serious power there. Looking forward to the Battle of the Amazons.

Posted by jb 06/06/2008 at 03:21 PM

lol sam. they are so silly aren't they? they just remind me of an indignant kitten, trying to look fierce. And I LIKE Ana, she reminds me a bit of lindsay at time, when both bplayers games are on. Don't understand the kerfuffle about them, but whatever.

Posted by tina 06/06/2008 at 03:23 PM

I was told that here in Croatia, terrestrial TV coverage of RG would end once Ljubičić lost. Then when Ana appeared on HRT2, I was told it was only because she's a hottie, even if she is a Serb. But I guess what these people hadn't counted on was that the Nadal-Đoković match would be up first, so they had no choice but to show it in their afternoon slot. They didn't bother with the second match. A friend and I were talking about the representation of Serbia in the world by these athletes, and while Novak has been taken to task for some (tame, IMO)comments about Kosovo, we wondered if Ana is ever asked these questions.

In any event, if nobody believes she didn't know about the number 1 ranking, I must ask: why would she lie? What would be the purpose of making that up?

Posted by Liz 06/06/2008 at 03:34 PM

>>In any event, if nobody believes she didn't know about the number 1 ranking, I must ask: why would she lie? What would be the purpose of making that up?

Exactly my own thoughts, Tina! Can't imagine why Ivanovic would want to pretend she didn't know. To all the doubters, it's just possible that she prefers not to read all the media hype about herself and her matches (which, if true, would be wise, IMO).

And jb said about Ana's fist pumps: they are so silly aren't they? they just remind me of an indignant kitten, trying to look fierce.

LOL, jb! Great imagery. I was going to say they reminded me of Tim Henman trying to be ferocious, but an indignant kitten is so much better.

I like Ana despite her fist pumps, but I'm hoping for Dinara to capture this one. More than anything, I just hope they both acquit themselves well. It would be so sad if we ended up with a battle of the yips and the shanks in the final.

Posted by Nancy J 06/06/2008 at 03:45 PM

That's really weird that Ana didn't know that she would be number one, as the day BEFORE the match I read a quote attributed to her saying (paraphrasing) that she wasn't concentrating on a specific number, because if one played their best the rankings would come. I sure thought she was referring to that top spot.

Surely Jelena knew, because she commented that being number one had been her childhood dream.

Things that make you go hmnm...

p.s. I'm not that confident that the stars will align this perfectly for Safina again. It's now or never for her. Although, I hope that I'm wrong.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2008 at 03:52 PM

Metaphysical Tennis:

Expanding on a theme in this article:

Do you think tennis matches and tournaments are won or lost long before they are played?

Don’t laugh or kill me until after the final tomorrow.

I have been in a very spiritual mode lately and studying Metaphysics. And I have asked questions before going to sleep or meditating and have gotten little pictures in my mind that may have clues to the answer to my questiosn. Who the answer comes from, I won't get into my theory now, but in a Tennis sense I have asked questions and got pictures.

AO final: I asked (the air) if Ana would win. I got a picture of a blue car with the wheels coming off. At the AO open, Ana was wearing a blue dress and the wheels did come off.

I asked who would win another tournament and saw a picture of Sharapova with a trophy. Sharapova won that tournament.

There are other examples I can give but to make a long story short. I was asking about RG...

One was how many rounds a particular player would get through in the tournament. I saw the players face with a two generic tennis players standing next to the player. The player got to the second round.

I can’t remember if I asked who would win or if Ana would win, but a got a picture of what I though was a blond, braided pony tail. So I though, who has this and I though Cibulkova but she lost, then Safina as she has a blonde, braided pony tail. I wasn’t sure if the picture was telling me a blond pony tail or a pony tail so I asked again. The picture I got was a horse’s (pony’s?) head but very dark, black. So thought does this mean Dark Horse, which would be Safina or Ivanovic – Black pony tail or black main.

Then I remember I had a picture a couple of months ago and I saw what looked like the rankings list and Ivanovic moving to #6. Then I saw how she played in those months and I though: Is she going down to #6? Which was possible if she lost a lot points. Then Justine retired (I won’t tell you about the pictures I got about that) and I though there is no way Ivanovic would be #6 any time soon. So now she is #1. However, this is the 6th month of the year. This morning just before waking, I got the following picture. Safina in her serving stance with yellow shoes and a dream that I think lead me to believe that Ivanovic will win that the nerve issue is calmed with her.

So my prediction is Ivanovic will win.

You all can laugh now but I think there is something to this.

That matches and/or tournaments are won or lost on a spiritual level long before they are played.

I think our lives are played out the same way, but that is too deep a discussion for now.

Other comments:

Hearing that, then reading Ana talk about Nadal makes me wonder: are we on the verge of the masculinisation of women's tennis - the sport becoming a unisex game, rather than one where the sexes play differently? A return to tennis as it was in the 80s?

Please! If you actually read Pete's article and Ivanovic's face going red and know that Ivanovic and Nadal flew from Indian Wells to Miami together in a private plan and Nadal said wonderful things about Ana and her family and they both drove in a car together to do the RG draws. It may be Ana that likes Nadal but she is trying to deflect attention away from that. He is kinda cute and they are about the same age, and have a common interest and he is successful in his own right so not threaten by hers. Maybe love is blooming? A nice, Evert and Conners.

She knows Justine retired. She knows Sharapova lost. And she knows she played Sharapova in the semis last year.
You're telling us she wasn't thinking about how #1 would turn out next week?

I think what their saying is she probably did not know that Svete lost and that the outcome of the match would produce number one. I think that is what they are saying, which is possible.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 06/06/2008 at 04:10 PM

Pete is scratching at something here, but I think it works in both ways.

The internal mental "struggle" Pete refers to does not always lead to negative results on court. Some players find that struggle to be the difference between winning and losing, and wind up using that struggle to cross the finish line. There are too many players in too many settings to validate this point --Serena and Sharapova being two obvious examples.

It's just easier to recognize the futility of the struggle when the player loses; again -- consider Serena and Sharapova as being two recent examples.

Posted by Vuvu 06/06/2008 at 05:15 PM

TennisFan: I like your metaphysical/spiritual analysis and prediction.

The key thing is Dinara is not just playing for herself, but for her family too as she put it, plus its her first time at such a big stakes occasion. Ivanovic has worked out the inner battle and how to comethrough it.

There will be some nerves on both sides, but I feel (intutively like you) that Ivanovic will prevail. I feel those yellow shoes you saw Dinara wearing were a symbolic representation of her nerves getting to her feet, compromising her already relatively slow movement.

Ok I am reluctant to mention this, but you have given me the courage to do so: I am a psychic reader ( we're all psychic but tend not to develop those abilites) and everytime I ask the question about who will win tomorrow - I see Ivanovic with an expression of total disbelief as she gets out of the zone to realise what she has just achieved.

I'd like to add that the future is never fixed as so many variables come into play based on the individual playes beleif in themselves. But as I write at 22:11 uk time, on 06/06 Ivanovic has it.

Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow - I can't watch the match so I'll have to keep checking for the score on the net via my mobile as I am at a workshop on - guess what? "Developing your psychic ability" hehehe. This is fun!

Posted by Syd 06/06/2008 at 06:20 PM

VuVu;

Well, can you tell me who will win on Sunday please? And also; Who will win the Kentucky Derby.

Thanks! I'd appreciate it.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/06/2008 at 06:50 PM

I see Ivanovic with an expression of total disbelief as she gets out of the zone to realise what she has just achieved.

Vuvu: I don't claim to be pyschic but I think I have something going on that I don't really understand and never had before. I have other things going on other than little pictures but no one to really talk to about and no idea how to interpret. So I read books. Maybe you and I can talk someday.

So your take on it gives me confidence in my opinion. I have had smilily faces before. I saw a picture of an Ivanovic smilely face before Indian Wells and Davenport smilely face before she beat Ivanovic in Miami. Also at Indian Wells, I was watching Sharapova and Kuznetsova but had to do something else so I did not know who won (and Sharapova was up at this point) and then later I was taking a nap and saw Kuznetsova with her racket high in the air with a smile with Sharapova on her back. Later, I checked the score and sure enough Kuznetsova had won.

Syd: As far as your question about - Federer/Nadal, I asked the air. However, I don't think my answer is any proof of psychic ability as just about anyone could figure this out. However, I got like an immediate feeling of heavy energy, almost churning inside and almost a burning feel on my face. And my field of vision was entirely green. So you figure out who I think will win on Sunday. If this stuff is real, this could be why Nadal is so dominate as he sends out this heavy energy not only to the air but to his opponents so no one has a chance.

I did not ask about the Kentucky Derby as I'm not really into that and I'm afraid someone might lose (or win) a lot of money if they read this and act on it. So maybe VuVu can ask the air on that one.

Posted by Vuvu 06/06/2008 at 07:33 PM

Vuvu: I don't claim to be pyschic but I think I have something going on that I don't really understand and never had before. I have other things going on other than little pictures but no one to really talk to about and no idea how to interpret. So I read books. Maybe you and I can talk someday.

I'd love to tak about that someday Tennis Fan - I have had this going on for most of my life, but was socialised to be scared of it. This kind of knowing is difficult to relate to those that don't understand, or wish to understand, and I am not here to impose my view or convince anybody of anything. We live in a culture that tends to poo poo such ideas, but that is slowly but surely changing.

As to who will win on Sunday Syd - well Nadal of course :) I am not fanatical about it, but I happen to adore the man for his tennis and his character. I love Fed too, but Nadal has the edge on clay and you don't need to be psychic to know that.

With regard to the gambling fraternity - I don't engage my intuitive abilities for such, so sorry, Kentucky Derby bets are off. And that includes the lottery before you ask, hehehe. I consider this as a gift and a calling for spiritual empowerment not personal profit or anything on that more base material level.


Posted by Vuvu 06/06/2008 at 07:43 PM

Pete - I love your articles and this one in particular, so am keen people don't miss it.

There is a technical glitch on the frontpage which is supposed to link to this article, its called "Ivanovic Unlugged", but goes to the article on "Les Dauphins" - Novak and Rafa instead of here.

And is there a typo there; as in you meant "Ivanovic Unplugged"?

Posted by Dinarawins 06/06/2008 at 11:01 PM

those who are so confidently backing Ana seem to forget Iva Majoli, Anastasia Myskina, etc., not to mention, more importantly, she is on a serious roll, including scalps that Ana has never been able to take (Venus, Serena, even Dementieva, who has Ana's number recently). In other words, while I can see Ana winning, Safina is simply on fire. She's got the IT factor right now. The fire in the belly like we haven't seen from a female player going for her it in her first slam final since, well....who do y'all think of?

Posted by 06/06/2008 at 11:03 PM

I meant henin, not venus. of late Dinara has taken down the top folks---sharapova, williams, henin, kuz, dementieva

can Ana boast this, not just of late, but EVER? point is, right now Safina has got to be even money, at the very least. just look at her

Posted by koolkish 06/06/2008 at 11:05 PM

I think Ana is way too smug with herself for never having won a slam. Congrats on being #1, quite an accomplishment...but I think Dinara is just unstoppable. Recall, the 2004 Wimbledon Championships when #13 seeded Maria Sharapova crushed the favored #1 seed Serena Williams 61 64. Dinara's seeding this week? #13. The favored player? #2 Ivanovic...History is bound to repeat itself...it's Dinara's destiny...

62 75 Safina

Posted by Anna 06/06/2008 at 11:14 PM

I love Ana and Dinara, I was hoping for this final. I can't believe it's actually happening. I don't know who to root for.

Posted by craigs 06/07/2008 at 12:10 AM

Martina said: Kuznetsova GAVE the match to Dinara.

Posted by 06/07/2008 at 12:10 AM

Pete, nice piece, thanks.

I like both girls. I noticed Dinara because of her brother but after watching her play and then self destruct, I developed a soft for her (DC tie in Israel). I am happy for her great results during the clay season and that she can take confidence from this and carry it over into the rest of the season.

Re: Anna. I like her and her way. I believe she is honest. I am sure she knew that RG would determine the new #1 ranking but I do believe that she had not spent the time to work out the numbers once Maria lost. I know that I worked out the numbers with several scenarios and it did not jump out at me until I saw the media headlines. Also, I saw media comments stating that they they would prefer the trophy over the ranking. I think her game is still coming along and results have probably come faster than she and her team expected and I hope she takes confidence from her success to continue to improve and succeed in the future with the same humility she has now.

Re: the final. For each I have my reasons to want to win. Both are deserved:

Dinara because she has had a such a great run and beat very formidable opponnents (berlin and RG) and she can take great confidence from her success at RG. If she loses, she should still take great confidence from what she has and can accomplish.

Ana - the win would confirm her new #1 ranking. However, if she loses she is still the #1. After she won vs. Jankovic, I was very happy for her but decided I wanted Dinara to win the final. But after reading the comments re: Jankovic and her mimicking and disregard for the final, it makes me think, well in that case, Ana you take it and be the first female GS champion. Girls will be girls afterall. Plus, I believe in PR and Jankovic should have been more diplomatic. Shame on her.

I hope the match will be a great match and both will bring their game and walk away knowing that they did what they could.

Go Dinara and Ana!


Posted by faith 06/07/2008 at 12:21 AM

vuvu and tennis fan:
Love this discussion. I too am very interested in the subject.
Vuvu, by any chance have you heard of Geoff Boltwood aka Tareth. He is a psychic healer in Glastonbury. We were on vacation and I had a healing session by him. Just google Tareth. maybe we can all email offline, mail2vw at gmail dot com

Posted by kaizenmom 06/07/2008 at 05:17 AM

I'm very surprised about comments on the 'masculinisation of women's tennis'. Tennis players, whether male or female, ought to be able to adopt effective techniques from another player they look up to, regardless of gender. Especially if this improves their play. When a previously hard-hitting male player develops 'soft hands' for a successful drop-shot, or wears shoulder-length hair, nobody ever remarks on the "feminisation of men's tennis", do they?

This is 21st century tennis, where the prize money for men & women is now equal for this tournament. Gender equality shouldn't cause us irrational fear, because it is NOT about turning everyone into one into one same thing. It's all about being able to acknowledge that the very differences we celebrate are of equal value.

Posted by Markic 06/07/2008 at 05:54 AM

My point about masculinisation was really more to do with some of the women embracing the idea of 'tactics', changing your game, rather than all that 'I just have to play my own game' nonsense which has caused so many bad matches in recent times. Actually, I think people do at least subconsciously attribute feminine values to male players who use more than just brute force - just look at the way federer's metrosexual reputation has swept all before it in the fashion magazines.

Posted by lulu 06/07/2008 at 06:19 AM

Jesus, I suppose it's too much asking for a better Dina pic? :rolleyes:

Posted by daniela 06/07/2008 at 06:54 AM

Ana fantasizing about Nadal??? hmmmmm

Posted by Lea 06/07/2008 at 07:18 AM

"My point about masculinisation was really more to do with some of the women embracing the idea of 'tactics', changing your game..."

Wow! So you think that female players never use tactics or have game plans? Have you ever watched Martina Hingis play?

Posted by Markic 06/07/2008 at 07:46 AM

Exactly Lea - she's the (almost) exception who proves the rule...

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/07/2008 at 11:45 AM

Ok, I was right on the Ana issue. Let's see if Nadal comes through.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/07/2008 at 11:57 AM

I see Ivanovic with an expression of total disbelief as she gets out of the zone to realise what she has just achieved.

Vuvu: If you come back here and saw the final, this was Ana's expression after she won. She looked stunned not the uncontrollable excitment that I would have expected. You were right.

Posted by Tosin 06/07/2008 at 12:02 PM

Just fabulous! If anything, this article has too much wisdom and goodness.

Posted by M.Alex 06/07/2008 at 12:18 PM

First of all - congrats Ana.

Second - get the political crap out of your comments. There is no place for that at this or any other sports blog.

I guess Dinara is following the steps of some big time losers. She lost because of her body and her previous matches not because she was outplayed by a better player. My prediction is that she will follow the footsteps of her big brother. Few good results as an underdog than all downhill from there when there is a pressure to perform as a favorite.

By the way - forgot to write before - good call Tennis Fan on Ana's inability to be coached by her main coach. However - I guess she remembered how to stay in the moment from her previous experiences. Even though I am pulling for Ana, she needs to win another major playing Maria or Serena. That will show me that she really arrived.

Posted by Andrew 06/07/2008 at 12:32 PM

"One reason the best players win so often is because that struggle is long over; the smoke on the battlefield has cleared and dead and wounded former selves have all been carted off."

Wow.

Best. Line. Ever.

Posted by Markic 06/07/2008 at 12:33 PM

Oooh spooky with the premonitions! Well done!

Posted by malimeda 06/08/2008 at 04:32 AM

Well, Ana wants to emulate Nadal in FH spin, intensity and defence and Nadal is being quizzed about Ana...

Here's a hilarious question from a fan and an equally hilarious (and straightforward) answer from Rafa (Spanish newspaper El Mundo publishes his daily blog and Q&A):

"Q: Hi, Rafa, first of all congratulations for your birthday and for the terrific tournament you're having. Now I want to ask you something that surely 90% of us who play tennis in Spain want you to clear up for us once and for all. Your press agent probably won't let you answer, your mother may scold you and your uncle will tell you to stay focused on the match, but you have to clear up this doubt that eats away at all of us who suffer through each one of your matches: Is Ana Ivanovic as gorgeous as she looks on TV?

A: Yes, the truth is she's beautiful and really nice, although I don't know her that well. My press agent is of the same opinion, and so is Maymo, Carlos Costa and the rest of my team. I'll check with my mother as well... hehehe."

Posted by Beauty 06/08/2008 at 12:00 PM

Hey very nice article.

I love the way the Serbs players represented their countries. I think they are both lucky to be part of these great game.

Jelena could have been in Ana's place if she wasn't injured.

There is a reason for everything, and a time for everything.

I see now the Serbs, players deserved what they are into.

But I promise I love Maria Sharapova!

Posted by Beauty 06/08/2008 at 12:03 PM

Hey very nice article.

I love the way the Serbs players represented their countries. I think they are both lucky to be part of these great game.

Jelena could have been in Ana's place if she wasn't injured.

There is a reason for everything, and a time for everything.

I see now the Serbs, players deserved what they are into.

But I promise I love Maria Sharapova! Hope you all can visit my blog http://mtbeauty.blogspot.com

Posted by JM 06/09/2008 at 06:32 PM

I find quite entertaining, but none too surprising, the tendency to believe Ana's a phony--that she knew all along the number one ranking was on the line, and that she's artfully concealed behind a carefully-crafted image.

Those assumptions say more about the person who holds them than they do the like it or not still-unblemished Ivanovic.

Know what? Some people are just nicer than you.


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