Ostapenko, so watchable, she plays a natural dynamic high risk style of attacking tennis. All done with infectious self belief, bravery, exuberance, determination, fun, and facial expressions of fun and joy. She won her first tennis Major at age 20. Pressure never seemed an issue.
Jack Niklaus still a great influence in golf was a prodigious young talent. He won his first golf Major at age 23 before going on to be considered by his peers as the greatest and most successful golfer to date.
Jack is a very different personality to Jelena. He certainly smiled plenty, played other sports and fished a lot. He liked his boat. Jelena is very successful on the dance floor.
He carefully planned before every competition. He played the odds and always looked to cut out unreasonable risk. He was famous for calling the likely winning score before each round. In fact he planned his own rounds to such a degree he knew in advance which holes he could not mess with and those he could take liberties with. He called his own target score!
Putting like serving at tennis posed its own issues. To be a long time success at golf you must continually putt well enough. A long term successful tennis player must always be able to serve well enough. Putting was always a huge and vital challenge for Niklaus. The serve is an ongoing challenge for Ostapenko.
Ostapenko is at her most dynamic against an opponents pace. She is best playing reactive tennis. She loves using an opponents pace against them with instinctive shots of her own. Good serving makes her virtually unbeatable. Without a comfortable hit, opponents dont get the time to dominate a rally. Good serving gives her momentum, free points, and consequently a saving of energy too.
Poor serving causes Jelena to give easy chances to her opponents. In consequence a massive pressure is placed on her to rally without error. The result of that is her opponents play her with “granny shots”. They get the ball back anyhow anywhere and let Jelena self destruct against tame balls, noballs, lob balls… granny balls!!!
At the moment she finds it very difficult to attack and win against a consistent feed of granny balls. The result of her matches always seems to be on her racket. She either overwhelms opponents or gives victory away misplaying soft balls.
Niklaus never appeared stressed. He was very good at keeping stress away from his game. Although he has often said that he had to work at it.
Yesterday Jelena Ostapenko not only lost her French Open Title, but also her infectious smile and famous facial expressions of fun and joy . This normally exuberant and determined warrior did not seem to enjoy the day. For the first time, tennis seemed a burden. Pressure had stolen her natural determined vibrant personality. Pressure from expectation and also the work being done with her new coach. She lost badly – to “granny tennis”
Its important for her – and us – that she remembers the exhilarating win of last year and realises that she can do it many times again. I am sure her team will make it clear how she lost and whats needed for the future. She must quickly absorb advice being given and be able to put that advice in her memory bank to be used instinctively in the heat of future battles.
She is a wonderfully watchable, exciting fun player to follow. Always well worth the entry fee. When she gets it right enough, she will dominate women’s tennis for years to come.