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The Challenge for Young Players: Achieving Dominance


When Ash Barty retired in March, the conversation centered on how someone so young could walk away from tennis. For a Women’s Tennis Association champion, nevertheless, 25 is comparatively old.

Since Serena Williams’s last Grand Slam title on the Australian Open in 2017, 15 of 19 Slam winners have been 25 or younger, and 11 were women not more than 23. The brand new world No. 1, Iga Swiatek, won’t be 21 until the tip of this month.

Nevertheless, most of that group didn’t ensconce themselves at the highest of the game: Jelena Ostapenko, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin and, especially, Garbiñe Muguruza and Naomi Osaka are still threats, but all have Ping-Ponged up and down the rankings due to injuries and other struggles.

That opens the door to the Top 10 for the subsequent generation. But to achieve the game’s summit, these players must address their weaknesses. Nevertheless, because the American player Coco Gauff noted, “It’s tough to work on recent things once you’re practicing during a tournament since you don’t wish to introduce something recent just before a match.”

Marta Kostyuk and Amanda Anisimova said they skipped tournaments, sacrificing rating points, to find time for practice. “I actually have a great balance,” Anisimova said. “My game is a piece in progress, and it’s not a speedy process.”

Pam Shriver, an ESPN analyst and former skilled player, said that within the late fall, players out of contention for the year-end WTA Finals could be well served by taking more day off. “They need to each do a serious assessment after the U.S. Open to see in the event that they wish to retool just a few things,” she said.

They need to learn to emulate Barty’s well-rounded game, said Martina Navratilova, a Tennis Channel analyst and the multiple Grand Slam winner. “She had variety in her shots and a Plan B or Plan C in every match,” Navratilova said. “You could have to have the option to harm people in additional ways than one.”

Fortunately, said Rennae Stubbs, an ESPN analyst and former skilled player, the competitors’ youth allows time to grow: “Yes, there are things they’ll improve, but the good players from the past all modified how they played as they got older and stronger.”

Listed below are seven players no older than 22 and advice on how they may improve their games.

Last 12 months, Raducanu, 19, who’s ranked twelfth, stunned the game by winning america Open. But easy stardom can create problems, Navratilova said.

“She’s getting thrown an excessive amount of into the world outside tennis,” Navratilova said of distractions like social media. “And agents often attempt to get the bucks while the player’s hot.”

Shriver, who reached a U.S. Open final at 16, can relate. “It modified my whole world,” she said. “It takes awhile to get resituated together with your recent identity and responsibilities.”

Gauff, 18, and ranked 18th, is working on her footwork and on staying calm under pressure, “ensuring I take my time between points,” she said.

Her elders prefer that she give attention to her forehand. “It has gotten higher, but it surely’s still the shot that goes off,” Navratilova said.

Stubbs blamed Gauff’s extreme forehand grip, exacerbated by a protracted swing and never enough racket-head speed.

For an athlete of Gauff’s caliber, time may provide the answer, Shriver said. “If you’re still growing into your body, it’s tough to all the time have the identical contact point on shots,” she said, “so a few of this may change when Coco settles into her frame.”

Her top priority, Shriver said, needs to be build up durability and strength: “She needs a powerful core to resist the ability of the highest players but in addition the week-in, week-out playing.”

As a lefty, Fernandez, 19, and ranked seventeenth, must also use her cross-court forehand to tug players off the court on their backhand side, Shriver said, and earn more free points on her serve, Stubbs added. “Her service motion could get somewhat more fluid,” Stubbs said. “It gets somewhat discombobulated.”

Anisimova, 20, and ranked thirty third, has the shots to be a champion, Navratilova said, but must move forward and take balls earlier. “She hits a giant shot to the corner, but continues to be six feet behind the baseline,” Navratilova said. “She must step in and make the most.”

Shriver said players like Maria Sharapova improved their speed and quickness through training. Anisimova is on board: “I’m most focused on my movement and becoming a greater athlete, and I feel it’s improved rather a lot during the last couple of months.”

For Vondrousova, 22, and ranked thirty fifth, it’s about mental growth greater than specific shots. “She’s very talented and has great variety in her shots, but sometimes she gets down on herself mentally,” Stubbs said.

Her lack of fireside could just be natural reserve, Shriver said, but to prove doubters improper, Vondrousova must display a killer instinct in rallies: “She has a great lefty forehand, but must make it an intimidating weapon.”

“She has the world at her feet, but must get her fitness level up there,” said Stubbs, who expects big things as Tauson, 19, becomes more comfortable on the tour: “If she will be able to get quicker, she won’t should all the time hit the massive shot.”

Shriver said Tauson, who’s ranked forty third, had game-changing power but sometimes lacked intensity: “Possibly she’s just shy, but sometimes it appears like she’s not fully engaged. I’d wish to see some passion on the court.”

Together with her father still in Ukraine, this Kyiv native has larger things on her mind. “Most significant is that she gets help coping with this trauma, since it’s going to be in her life,” Shriver said, adding that Kostyuk, 19, should be patient together with her tennis game for now.

Kostyuk, who’s ranked 58th, said that along with working on her shot selection during rallies, she was most focused on “staying in the current.”

Nevertheless, even without the horrors in her homeland, that shouldn’t be easy to work on in practice. “It’s a giant a part of it,” Kostyuk said, “but these are abstract ideas, so it’s not like just working in your down-the-line backhand.”

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