Kim Clijsters: More Peaks than Troughs

Kim Clijsters in Ashe
As the wind wreaked havoc last evening on Ashe, Clijsters and Stosur went to battle to earn the right to play Venus Williams in the semis.

Stosur started brilliantly, by breaking Clijsters and taking an early lead. That forehand is something which I cannot get over with (Andy Murray can watch a bit of Sam's forehand). It strikes a perfect delicate balance among power, pace and control. The racket head speed is phenomenal and the placement - pin point. Its not quite the liquid whip of Federer, but its in the vicinity. Its fearless as well.

Consistent with the entire tournament, Kim has her ups and downs, and peaks are followed by troughs. She came back to win the first set 6-4, and then a lull engulfed her game at the beginning of the second set. She would once again even the second set at 5-5, only to see Stosur win the second 7-5.

Unlike Robredo and Youzhny yesterday afternoon, Clijsters and Stosur play at an incredible pace - both during the points and between them. They hardly go for the towel and this was clean ball striking between two players who are like a well oiled engine in an Aston Martin.

I did think Sam used the kicker a bit too much, may be showing way more respect to Clijsters than one normally does. The kicker provided Clijsters that additional fraction of time to lock up and load ... on the return. A flatter one down the T could have been used more to take time away from Clijsters.

The wind wreaked havoc - leading to 15 breaks of serve in three sets. The breaks were more due to the wind rather than due to mediocre serves of MA-SHA, Ivanovic or Dementieva. Even Venus Williams struggled significantly on her serve last evening against Schiavone.

With 3-3 dead heat in the third set, Clijsters switched the button 'ON' again. Her shifting gears just at the right time in combination with wind and Sam's inconsistency for a very short period of time - resulted in she winning the final set 6-3.

Sam was down 3-5 in the final set against Dementieva as well, and jail-broke there, but Clijsters closed the door firmly shut. Stosur's camp looked incredibly happy at her run to the quarters in NYC, and she was pretty pleased with she being able to back up her run in Paris as well.

That win against Dementieva under the lights two night before would have given her tremendous confidence. Today was a bit of a crap shoot- and she ran into a player who was just too hot. Her elder brother was in her box, but her younger out of the two brothers chose to actually stay in the crowd with the Aussie boys ... with a few pints in hand - and cheer for his sister. He seemed to have a great time, and the cameras did not miss that. For the nth time these two weeks, Mr 30's ROCK Alec Baldwin was in the house.

With the work ethic and the meat and potatoes serve - FH combination, along with her mental strength, slam days are not far away for Sam Stosur, may be even as early as 2011. What better time to do it than in Laver in front of her adoring home crowd, but realistically her best chance in on the faster hards of New York ... or on the Parisian Clay perhaps.

Coming back to Clijsters, she faces Venus Williams next - and Venus herself struggled on her serve a lot against Schiavone. Makes you think almost - is good bio-mechanics a necessity for a reliable and a strong serve ?

Think about it, almost all of them: Venus Williams, MA-SHA, Ivanovic - all of them use way more of their arm power rather than an ensemble of perfect biomechanics of their body to exert power - on their serves and groundies.

Think about someone like Federer, Sampras or Isner - in addition to their arm, they use perfect mechanics on strokes to facilitate such a strong serve. That comes down to how one is taught to serve early, and thats pretty much set when you are out of your teens. Tinkering with one's serve action (even if its sub-optimal) is almost suicidal (Nole and MA-SHA now withstanding). Dementieva has perfect mechanics on her groundies (she is one of the few women who utilizes mechanics rather than sheer arm power to exert power on to her ground strokes), has one of the most uncomfortable, ungainly and consequently, an ineffective service motion.

Makes you wonder if mechanics and service motion are correleted ?

Clijster meets Venus: Can Venus rally take advantage of the troughs that Clisters inevitably goes through in a match .... one needs incredible coinsistency to take advantage of that. I dont think Venus does have that consistency as of now, I am going to pencil in Kim's name for a second consecutive - second Saturday appearence.

Another late night for Jada I guess, she needs to get used to it if her mum plays at this level though ...

--- Keep Rockin, Long John Silver


  1. I think that you are a bit too positive about Sam's forehand, comparing it to Rodge's. Well, yeah when she is in position, there is nothing better placed than that bludgeon of an inside out. But then she doesn't have quite the footwork to get into the perfect position that consistently - a big reason why Rodge's forehand is Rodge's own.

    Yeah Clijsters blew hot and cold. Sam did too - but her transitions into and out of form were not as clearly defined.

    I hope she will win a Slam. She does have a mind that can be moulded to support that winning mind-set. I hate that she threw away her chance at Paris.

  2. This one though fluid lacks that oil like ease. It flows a bit like water - a bit turbulent at times. Parts of it look artificial. But yeah its a long time since you wrote, I am guessing...

  3. I would agree with you - yeah. nothing comes close to the fluid liquid whip - i think so about kim too, that she transitions between hot and cold more seamlessly than others - very true. more peaks than troughs - someone painfully consistent to be able take advantage during her lull periods, can beat her

    i dont see anyone that painfully consistent now in wta

    sam probably has the mentality to win a slam, but so does M'Andy no? he wants to win one bad as well, so its not just about that

    ofcourse it wont be fluid - the last article i wrote about sport was about .... 11 months ago

    rusty ... but still not very bad

    cheers -and thanks for the comment

  4. i abs. love the "artificial" comment - can you explain more ?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. At the end of the day, I'd say Sam lacks that killer instinct to make her win that GS in the end, while Kim has experience of having won Slams earlier that is making the difference if you see in all of Sam's end games be it Paris or NY. The difference between a champion and one who is a challenger is that the champion has the tenacity to hold on and change their game plan in the middle if their earlier game plan is going wrong. It is not that Sam's game is bad but her tactics when she is down are not malleable.

  7. On the Venus Vs. Kim deal, I am gonna say that you may be on to something but then I'd root for the underdog, the underdog being the only American left in the fray!

  8. i can see that simran - but players who game is based on power than finesse, are more often than not rigid in their tactics, because they have lower number of tools to deploy - when compared to say, a federer

    but i think mentally she is fine .... i do believe that

    i dont know you mate - but thanks for commenting, let me know a bit more about you

  9. YOU really believe Vee - is an underdog in her match with Kim ?? why ...

    an american in Ashe .... i think its even keel - at least from a support standpoint