Mail! I’ve always wanted to do a mailbag segment. I have such great conversations with people on Twitter, and sometimes people will even send me excellent questions out of nowhere. I figured this would be a great way to have that discussion, and consider things I hadn’t thought about to hopefully create even more discussion. Thanks to everyone who sent in a question this week. This will become a weekly thing, and if you would like to send in a question, Tweet me or e-mail me at brodie@mindtheracket. Thanks, everyone.
No. Obviously yes, but in all seriousness, Ana Ivanovic had a fantastic week, not just winning her first outdoor title since 2008, but crushing most lesser opponents until a toughn3 set match against Venus. Ana has never been one for straight forward wins, and it is always a positive sign when top players can route weaker opponents in about 70 minutes. That said, Ana should have won that final in two sets. Fair play to Venus who consistently raised her game when her back was up against the wall, but Ivanovic would have done well to close this out in a more simple manner. That was the type of match she has lost in the past. The idea of Ivanovic winning another major seems remote, but her putting together some runs to get back into the top 10 is certainly possible. Good week for her, regardless.
Let’s not talk about players already near the top, but players who could have a significant ranking jump.
Madison Keys crushed Simona Halep with a lot of help, but make no doubt – Madison is for real. Just 18, she has never looked more fit, and it feels nearly impossible to not compare her to Davenport. Blistering power can get you pretty far, and it looks like the only way is up.
Canadian bias klaxon! Looking down the rankings, not many players in the top 100 inspire the “breakout season” narrative. I’ve talked before that particularly men are reaching their tennis maturity at a later age, and Pospisil is a perfect example of this. His serve has always been a plus weapon, but the strength and depth on his forehand is considerable, and he loves to finish points at net and does so effectively. Now 30th, Pospisil should break the top 20 and could go even higher this season.
Halep’s season is off to a rough start after looking lost versus Keys in Sydney. It was shocking to see a top player have all aspects of her game off for over a set. Romanian birds close to me whispered that she may have done away with her previous coach as he was a local guy, and she might have been hoping to find a bigger name. Still coachless, it’s fair to worry.
That said, Simona will play much better in Melbourne and will get weaker opponents to start due to her ranking. After that, we can really evaluate the coaching situation.
What do you think of the Djokovic/Becker collaboration?
- Amy C.
When Andy Murray hired on Ivan Lendl to be his full time coach, he needed a change. Despite improving at times, he was yet to make his major breakthrough. Mentally, he could be a complete mess. His practice regime likely needed a restart. We all remember how it started. Murray would go bonkers on court, screaming at himself and his box. Simply, a cold faced Lendl stared back at him, offering nothing.
We all know how this ended. Murray not only won that first major title, he won a second at Wimbledon in 2013. What am I getting at? Murray needed a coach who would give him hands on help (Lendl is on the court at all of Murray’s practices and travels nearly everywhere with him) as well as sort his brain out.
Novak Djokovic doesn’t need help. He was shades away from being the best player last year, and has been on a tear for years. We shouldn’t view these situations in any sort of similar way. There’s something to be said for a player simply wanting to enjoy the company and pick the brain of one of their idols. Also, it looks like Novak’s long time coach Marian Vajda will slowly be phased out, and this gives Novak another encouraging voice in his ear. I’ve heard Boris Becker’s commentating, arguably far too much of it while I was living in England. At this point, Novak Djokovic could probably teach Boris more than Boris could teach him (and probably be a better commentator, too). We’ll see how long this lasts – I’d look for Djokovic to find a more serious full time coach once Vajda eventually leaves, if that happens.