PDA

View Full Version : A calmer, freer, more serene Mauresmo at RG06


winged_guardian
05-28-2006, 04:15 PM
For Mauresmo, another try at the title that means most to her

By Christopher Clarey International Herald Tribune

FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2006



PARIS The year was 1995. Amélie Mauresmo, an unknown French 15- year-old with thick glasses and a fine one-handed backhand, entered the French Open qualifying tournament and managed to get through all three rounds, sobbing with joy after beating an American, Lindsay Lee-Waters, to make it into the main event.
It looked like the beginning of something beautiful.
Roland Garros stadium, after all, was the same leafy place where Mauresmo's childhood idol, Yannick Noah, had won the men's tournament in 1983, inspiring her to head into her yard and start imitating his strokes without a racket.
This, after all, was the same place where Mauresmo had come to live and train as one of the most promising players in the highly structured French developmental system.
But despite all the good omens and elemental connections, Mauresmo has never come close to a happy ending. In 12 appearances in the main draw of her national championship, she has yet to make it past the quarterfinals, or to demonstrate the same sort of versatile flair that she has demonstrated on other clay courts around the world.
She has been beaten by much lesser talents, including Jana Kandarr of Germany in a particularly upsetting first- round shocker in 2001. She has been overwhelmed by the mighty, losing, 6-1, 6-2, to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals in 2003.
But the common thread running through those and other matches was stage fright, and as if it weren't tough enough to tighten up for your own cause, Mauresmo also experienced defeat on home ground in the final of the Fed Cup in 2005, as Elena Dementieva led Russia past Mauresmo and France to the disappointment of a large and hopeful Paris crowd at Roland Garros.
Mauresmo, a thoughtful, occasionally pensive sort, has tried all manner of approaches in an attempt to change the karma. She has kept to herself and avoided discussing the upcoming tournament some years. She has talked freely and addressed all her demons during others. She even enlisted Noah himself last year as a motivator and talisman. The result: an upset loss to a Serbian teenager, Ana Ivanovic, in the third round.
This year, she is trying another experiment: returning to the place that means so much, perhaps too much, to her as the number one seed. She arrived at that lofty perch by winning her first significant title at last year's tour championships in Los Angeles and then breaking through to win her first Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January.
She is not quite on the same roll now. She played just one warm-up tournament on clay, losing in the semifinals to Justine Henin-Hardenne in Berlin and then withdrawing from the Rome event with tonsillitis. In short, she has not had ideal preparation, but then ideal preparation has not suited her in other years. Could this one really be different?
Mauresmo hopes so, even thinks so, and she discussed her breakthrough year and frustrating past this week.

IHT: How have the last few months been different because of your victory in Australia? What impact has it had on your state of mind?
MAURESMO: In fact, it's all been part of the process that started with winning the tour championships. There has been lots of joy and free swinging on the court. It's like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. You could see I left the contents of my backpack in L.A. and then left the backpack in Melbourne. I feel freer, and when I came back to France I won the tournaments in Paris and Antwerp. So these good results helped me stay on my cloud for a little while. I then had to take a break. Mentally, I needed to protect myself. It's a long season, and I have to be aware of that.

IHT: Do you feel lighter in the shoulders only on the court or off the court, too?
MAURESMO: Above all, it's on the court, but I've come to realize that it's affected me in my everyday life, too, and in my relations with others. I'm more open now, more relaxed, happier.

IHT: Because Justine Henin- Hardenne retired in the second set of the final in Australia, you didn't get a chance to experience the adrenaline rush and release of a championship point. Is that something you are chasing now, or is it not that important compared with the title?
MAURESMO: Sure, it's important to experience that. Sure, looking back, it was frustrating, because it would have been even more extraordinary to have this climactic moment, all the more so because I experienced it in Los Angeles at the end of a very tight and intense match. That was extraordinary. Of course, it's a bit of a shame what happened in Australia, a bit of a disappointment, but for me, the victory is not tainted by the way it ended. It's a real, beautiful Grand Slam victory.

IHT: Have you and Justine had a chance to clear the air by talking about her decision to stop?
MAURESMO: No.

IHT: Would you like to get her version from her?
MAURESMO: Perhaps it will happen. We'll have to let the time go by.

IHT: You were number one in 2004 without winning a Grand Slam. How different is it to be number one with a Slam?
MAURESMO: The first time it was lots of emotion, because it was a first and I really did not expect it. Today, it's more level-headed. I've actually been dominating at times in recent months. I'm taking this more calmly.

IHT: Do you feel you deserve it more now?
MAURESMO: Perhaps more than the last time, even though the last time it was more a reward for consistency. I'd say now it's more a reward for a certain phase of dominance. It's true that I feel I do really deserve it. I'm not going to win every tournament I play, but I'm savoring it, and at the same time, I'm not feeling that I have pressure on me. I think you savor things more when the path isn't easy, and it was more laborious for me than some of the others. I am perhaps even more proud, because I know exactly how much was required of me and what I had to do to get there.

IHT: You're almost 27, and you've said that you are a slower developer, a later bloomer than some of the other champions, like Martina Hingis or Steffi Graf or the Williams sisters. Why is that?
MAURESMO: Several factors, I think. There is perhaps an emotional factor that I needed time to mature and be able to manage. Another factor is the education and culture in which you grow up. I didn't grow up in the culture of victory, where you are expected to be or have to be, the best. It was not at all like that in my family. Tennis was really a hobby. If it led to something, great. If not, there were other things in life. I think that was something I was missing at some points in my career, because when I see Hingis or the Williamses, you see how they were educated for this: to win, to be the best, a bit the American mentality. Number one. Number one. Number one. I didn't have this. It's not that I regretted not having it. I'm happy with how I was educated, but I think it explains the process.

IHT: So did you learn to acquire this killer instinct?
MAURESMO: Actually no. I didn't have to adopt it. I created something else for myself that allowed me to reach, I think, the same ends. I think it's very tough to get that innate sense of victory and destiny once you come out of adolescence. But I created something for myself that was based on thinking about every aspect of tennis, on improving the details and the technique. I learned about myself and how I function, and I tried to follow this path. But in the end, there was also a feeling of enough is enough. Seriously. I got to a point where I really, really wanted it to be me who was the last one standing on the court and holding up the trophy.

IHT: So why hasn't it happened at the French Open? You've won other tournaments on clay, like Rome. You've gone past the quarterfinals now at all the other Slams.
MAURESMO: We'll see what happens, but for me, Roland Garros was always, until this year at least, something very uncomfortable, something I'd equate with suffering. It was not a pleasure to find myself on the court with all the fans behind me. Now, I'm taking more pleasure. I really want to be on the court and share something with them. They will be there this year again, and perhaps in a different way, perhaps to celebrate, in a way, what I've done.
Of course, there will be expectations and pressure, but I've proved that I can handle it and win other big tournaments. I hope that will free me up to approach Roland Garros differently. I feel like it will. I feel I am less stressed out in practice.

Other years, as soon as I got out there and put my foot on center court, I could feel myself tightening up, could sense that I had a short fuse, getting mad at things very quickly. It's true. Everything bothered me. It was tough. I think I was not ready to handle the expectations. Not just the crowd's but my own expectations. I also wanted a lot from this tournament, and it was hard to handle. But I really hope the experience will have served me, and that the free feeling I've had the last few months will make a difference.

A very thoughtful player...:)

slice bh compliment
05-28-2006, 07:01 PM
I love this kid.
She may not be the greatest player in the world (at least on clay), but she is the easiest to support.

Allez Amelie!

Bones08
05-28-2006, 07:19 PM
Well I really Like Amelie, but she has a problem that if Venus and Her Advance to the Quarters Venus will Exploit- She can't moonball against Venus power balls. See every time Meagen S hit a hard ball, Mauresmo had trouble hitting her huge topspin heavy balls. Venus will attack her and they will both go for eachothers 2cd serves.

superman1
05-29-2006, 02:05 AM
She did not look that strong in the first few minutes I saw of her opening match. She broke, but that was mostly because her opponent gave it to her. Those high topspin balls she hits are moonballs, not Nadal balls. They don't have much weight to them. If she has to play Venus, her chances aren't that great.

Bones08
05-29-2006, 03:18 AM
She did not look that strong in the first few minutes I saw of her opening match. She broke, but that was mostly because her opponent gave it to her. Those high topspin balls she hits are moonballs, not Nadal balls. They don't have much weight to them. If she has to play Venus, her chances aren't that great.

i agree, those balls are going to be swinging volley, after swinging volley,after swinging volley!

Duzza
05-29-2006, 03:32 AM
It's probably because she won the Aussie Open, she's more relaxed about her career. Sorry if it's in the article, i couldn't be bothered reading it

artworks
05-29-2006, 03:42 AM
Fearless forecast:

Mauresmo will not win RG06.

wyutani
05-29-2006, 03:48 AM
Fearless forecast:

Mauresmo will not win RG06.

dun need to be so negative mate'...of course she wont. ;)

breakfast_of_champions
05-29-2006, 01:12 PM
ya, thats 6-1,6-2 shallacking a couple weeks ago,by jhh, proves it.