There is a heaven. Of this I am sure. How can I be so sure? Because we finally have proof that heaven's corollary, hell, absolutely and definitively exists. I know this because I lived through it watching this craptastic match last night.
Is there anything more frustrating than watching two talented players trapped in their own heads? For almost three hours it seemed like neither of these two would JUST RELAX. Sam looked so frustrated and pissed by the fifth game (she would go on to DF two breaks to JJ in the first set) that I was begging, pleading, whining for her to just go ahead and break something. Break the racquet, the shrubbery, her chair. SOMETHING. But no.
As for JJ, it's still a tactical issue. She was told for years that she had to be more aggressive and so she's trying. But 80% of the time you're like "WTF? Why did you try and hit that shot?"
In the end, JJ would win 76(4) in a third set tiebreak. She deserved the win, I thought. If anything, those three missed forehands in the tiebreak by Sam proved that. You don't deserve to win a match when you miss easy shots like that.
I mean, the match wasn't HAAAAAAHRIBLE. It had a handful of great points, a couple for Sam, quite a few for JJ (some of those passing shots were amazeballs). I'm happy for JJ. If she can get her game back on track and be relevant again, maybe she'll finally regain the Glitter Queen moniker as opposed to the "Oh yeah. Her." label.
But Jesus Christ, Sam. Gauloises thought I was crazy when I cautiously predicted Sam would lose. But she just hasn't looked right all year. The game is 70% there but there are so many little things that, if you've watched every Stosur match all year (which I pretty much have, a majority of them live) you can see pretty clearly. Sure, she's moving a bit better, but her first serve has been wildly inconsistent, forcing her to rely too much on her kicker, which, while effective, still allows her opponent to get the ball back and start a rally. Once in the rally, Sam's losing way too many "neutral ball" points, that is, rallies that start or get to 50/50. She's even missing on the last ball on rallies that she has no business losing, and often it's been happening too many times on big points. She's not terminating on the forehand side and she's not consistent enough to work the point with it without missing.
Last year it seemed like Sam had a good idea of what she wanted to do with her backhand. Nowadays she goes for the two-hander when she's not in the position to hit it, and she goes for the slice when she should hit the two-hander. There's no clarity on that side which I think accounts for all the misses.
But at least I can pretend this tournament doesn't exist anymore. Pack your bags, head back to the States, figure out your shit, and let's hit IW and Miami running, corgi.
JJ has Caro next. She's actually 4-0 on the NEWBUTNOTNEW World #1. I have absolutely no problems with JJ getting it done.
(Pics: Getty, AP)