Odds & Ends from Sports Illustrated Blogs

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, as always, a good post from readers comments.

I’ve seen multiple post-final postings of you praising Azarenka for her mental toughness. She had an absolute mental meltdown in the semis, and in the final neither woman could hold serve (16 of 29 games were breaks). I get that she had to deal with a hostile crowd, but I don’t see how the take-home message from all this is her mental toughness is phenomenal.

If this were me, I’d have a hard time getting out of bed the next morning. And when I did, I’d assume an alias and reinvent myself as a B&B owner in Vermont. Not Azarenka. Instead of devoting a day to preparation, she is in damage control. She then returns to the scene of the crime, knowing that 15,000 fans will be rooting against her. In the next match — again, a Grand Slam final — her endearing opponent, Li Na, wins the first set. Then Li gets injured — twice. And, oh right, a fireworks display interrupts the match. Azarenka holds it together and defends her title.

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/news/20130130/australian-open-mailbag/#ixzz2JX8miwH3

We talk a lot about underachievers (players who ought to have done better with their talent, best players who never won a Grand Slam, etc.). But who are some overachievers?

• Ferrer — Spain’s top-ranked player! — tops the list. Again, this guy was considering a career as a construction worker not long ago. Then he decided to wring everything he could from tennis. Angelique Kerber is on her way to becoming the WTA’s answer to Ferrer.

When Rafael Nadal returns to court next week at the ATP 250 event in Vina del Mar, Chile, he won’t be carrying the Babolat Aero Pro Drive that has been his trusty racket of choice since he was 12 years old. According to DPA. Nadal will be switching to a newer Babolat model to — get this — achieve even more topspin.

Uncle Toni put pressure on Rafa to change. If you want to be better, you have to take risks,” Eric Babolat, the owner of the firm that makes the racket Nadal has been playing with since age 12, told DPA.

“I don’t agree with what you’re saying, but I’ll give it a try,” Babolat said Nadal usually tells his uncle-coach.

According to the Frenchman, the new racket and new strings give “more power and more control” to the Spaniard’s shots.

“More top spin, he already has a lot of that but he wants more,” said Babolat.

Read More – HERE

Australian Open leaves memories, conversation starters for new season

 We grow accustomed to the striking contrasts in personality and crowd appeal among the world’s best players, but the different-strokes theme reached a peak in Melbourne as Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka made the first bold statements of the Grand Slam season.

Djokovic cruised into the tournament with a clear head and extensive rest. Azarenka withdrew from a highly anticipated Brisbane semifinal against Serena Williams because of a botched pedicure.

Djokovic feasted on unbridled adulation during each match, a consummate entertainer in his element. Azarenka, hoodie-enshrouded and transported to a separate world through earphones, seemed to wish she were invisible.

Djokovic enthralled the Rod Laver Arena crowd with his four-set victory over Andy Murray, a performance that grew more astonishing by the minute. Azarenka encountered a bitterly skeptical audience, annoyed by her incessant shrieking and disgusted by her mental fragility (that’s how it will be remembered) in the semifinal against Sloane Stephens.

Out of nowhere, during a Legends doubles match, Djokovic resurrected his gift for pantomime by donning a medic’s outfit and performing “treatment” on the fallen Henri Leconte; you couldn’t keep him off the court. Azarenka will forever be remembered, grimly, for leaving the court during such a crucial stage against Stephens.

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