Praying ain't gonna help, Foxy. Trust me, I've tried.
Another week, another disappointing loss. It happens. Sure, kick the kid while she's down. Crack the jokes, have a giggle, revel in the fact that the pretty girl sucks at tennis. I still believe in the kid. I really do. There's just too much talent there, she works so damn hard, and she cares so fricking much (too much? Perhaps). I refuse to believe that we live in a world where that doesn't get rewarded down the road, one way or another.
Or maybe she's already been rewarded for it, winning a Slam and reaching #1 at such an early age, and the rest of her career is some form of penance. Hell, if that's the case, I'm totally fine with it. Why should it be that Fran or Nails get such accolades for being "late bloomers" when an argument could be made that they were underachievers for most of their career, whereas Ana, who achieved great success early, gets tagged with a "you suck at the tennis" label just because she's in a three-year slump? I don't know. I just kinda don't get it. It's the curse of expectation, I suppose. Still, that hardly seems fair.
Anyway, despite serving for the second set against Morita and leading 30-0, Ana found a way to choke away the game and the match, losing 62 75. I thought Morita played really really well, so all credit to her. That Fed Cup win by Japan last month may have bolstered her confidence. As for Ana, she said afterwards that she's only been swinging a racquet for a week before Stanford, opting to take a 10-day break with her family to Mallorca, two weeks of fitness training with Scott, and then one week of tennis before heading to Stanford. If one were to look for explanations for her poor form today, one might point to the rust inherent in her post-Wimbledon break.
She was surprisingly chipper afterwards, clearly believing that her road back with this new team will be a long one. Patience, both in her game and her fitness, seems to be the her mantra. Having sat through quite a few Ana pressers this year, it all really makes sense: the kid doesn't have a whole lot of faith in her fitness, which translates to insecurity about her game, and those doubts cause her to overthink, and splat.
So without further ado, some Ana quotes:
"Definitely not at the level I expected to perform, but still there were a few positive things. I just started with a new team for about a week now, so it takes time for some things to come in place. Obviously nerves played a little bit a part, you know, trying to impress a new coach but that's just normal. It's still a little bit disappointing with the loss and couldn't get a chance to get into the tournament. But there's lots of positive things that I did out there. I served well. Trying to work on a few things and put it together. But I just wanted to get out there and play a match. Maybe a few more weeks of practice will be good to get more confidence in certain shots and patterns, but it's good to be out there competing and practicing in a pressure situation."
"We spoke a lot about about the few things that we are working on. [Nigel] said 'When you're competing when you go out there I want you to trust your instincts and what you're going to do out there.' But I still try to think too much about technical stuff. But it's just a matter of practicing and doing it over and over again until it becomes automatic, basically. It's a process. It's only been a week, actually, that we've been working together. It just takes time."
"I know there are a few tournaments coming up that I have to defend a lot of points. But for me now, until the end of the year basically, it's more about getting that work done, that consistency, getting that base built up again, getting comfortable with my game again, getting that consistent level. It's not so much about -- of course I would love to see the results straight away and win tournaments again, but sometimes that's not how you go and it takes time for certain things to get into place. But like I said, I feel very comfortable and I really trust this team I have now around me. I know good things will happen, it's just a matter of time."
She even cracked a joke:
"I mean you can't tell because I've been in England for a week, but I did have a really good tan [from vacation]."
I still believe in you, dude. See you and your pale skin in San Diego!
(Pics: San Diego)