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Meltdowns! WTA Young Stars Against Belgium’s Best

Posted on March 30, 2010 by Jo Shum
Sony Ericsson Open - Day 7

Victoria Azarenka

What an eventful day in Miami.  Not that I was there to watch the game in person, I did catch the two matches featured Victoria Azarenka vs. Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva vs. Justine Henin on streaming.  What strikes me most was the resemblance of the (almost) complete collapse of both young stars, I have to say more so to Azarenka as she didn’t or possibly couldn’t get her mind to settle to even put up a fight in the second set.  It’s close to a complete handover or you can say, worse than actually retiring from the match.

After since Azarenka lost the lead in the middle of the first set, she got wrecked up, cursing, shouting, swinging racket to the ground, spitting foul language (and received a warning).  All drama.  And still no result.  She was not playing bad in my eyes, she just needed to play more rallies as Kim kept returning the balls. 

So what, good players can always return your ball unless you have an absolute winner.   Then after an hour switching to the stadium court, a jarring situation resembled with Zvonareva hitting her head with racket, dumping the ball to the net (and received a warning here too), urging loudly to herself, wrecking her racket to the ground.  Pure frustration, pretty much from the start as it was clear that Henin got under her skin from the first game.  Compliments to her though, as she feisty fought in the second set and seeing her striking beautifully and powerfully to hold a game.  But one game.  So in one night, in the last two women’s matches, we saw two meltdowns, emotionally fragile beings who turned their games into disintegrated efforts.  It was disheartening to see.  Of course when you contrast with the two Belgians, both calm and level headed, you have to concede that they are really in a different class.  And mind you to argue they are older and wiser now, the difference is that they possessed the same qualities back when they were 20s.  Justine and Kim were always quiet on court, calm and cool headed as they approached any matches while winning or losing.

What I believe is that the current young players are more spoiled, when they are on a roll, they win.  When they hit roadblocks, they can’t turn around with mental calmness.  Think back in 2001 to 2003 when the sisters were dominant, Capriati and Davenport still around, it was so much more difficult for Kim and Justine to burst on the scene.  They had to work so much harder, be so much smarter, play so much better to get a chance to shine.  And through this grueling process, they had then become the products of true top players in the next few years.  It’s part of the growing pain to go through, and if you pass the test you become untouchable as you build a shield to protect from the inferior players.  Unlike last few years until now, the so-called young and top players never had to face the cap from the top layers because there was no such layer with Williams sisters flew in and out of the tournaments.  So the young players didn’t get tested in order to refine themselves and build the cushion from the rest.

They kept playing each other at the same level (ok, some higher but mostly within the same bracket of supremacy) and therefore they kept changing seats in the rankings.

In contrary to most people citing them veterans and lucky to comeback  so successfully, I would argue that both Justine and Kim are truly talented and elite players who don’t come by day in and day out.  Because those are one of the great champions you will be lucky to witness their potentials in their generations.  So really, enjoy watching while you can with the exciting rivalries between Serena, Justine and Kim.  You might have to wait a long while before another true star is born.


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