Sharapova's Serving Woes (Continue)
Friday night, Maria Sharapova played what was a rather highly-anticipated match in her comeback against Venus Williams at the Bank of the West Classic on the beautiful campus of Stanford University. It was Sharapova’s first match against a top five player since she returned to the Tour after over nine months off for shoulder surgery. Venus beat Maria 6-2, 6-2. Sharapova has said her shoulder feels fine, but nonetheless her serving is a major
Maria had struggled with her serve before she left the Tour in the summer of 2008 with shoulder problems which eventually led to shoulder surgery last fall. However, in her fifth tournament back on Tour, Maria clearly continues to have trouble with her service motion, rhythm and toss. Maria has changed her motion to a much more abbreviated “bring-back,” but the change definitely doesn’t appear totally comfortable yet. As a result, her first serve is nowhere near as effective as it was when she was winning Grand Slam titles with aces and strong serves which set up her forcing second shot. At the same time, Sharapova has served too many double faults in almost every match she’s played in her comeback.
Several pro players have developed the so-called “serving yips.” However, it’s very rare for a top player, especially a former Number One player, to have such serious serving problems. Given the importance of the serve in women’s tennis, it’s critical that Sharapova solve her serving woes quickly before it really “gets into her head”… if it hasn’t already…