Tomorrow Maria Sharapova plays Serena Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
She brings in an 0-16 record in their last sixteen matches. Ouch. Even though the played pretty credibly in the Australian Open final.
Paging Brad Gilbert...
You see, Gilbert had the ability to play to his opponent's weaknesses. He didn't give them what they wanted to hit. It infuriated them (John McEnroe in particular), because they knew they were better. And Gilbert knew they were better. Gilbert basically tried to return everything and force mistakes.
Now, could Maria do that? I don't know. She'll have to play great. Serena's game doesn't have many weaknesses, obviously.
But Maria can't just hit with her. She's tried that.
So here's what I would try. Occasionally, just occasionally, try to drop her and then lob her. Move her vertically on the court. She's deadly side to side and powerful backhand and forehand if she can hit out. But she can't be as powerful volleying, and she certainly can't be as powerful running back to retrieve a lob.
So could Maria do that? Maybe not. Maybe she can't hit a decent drop shot. But she needs to mix it up a little, and make Serena think that maybe she isn't going to get the same menu from Sharapova that she has feasted on before.
Just make her doubt her magnificent ability a little. Then maybe Maria has a chance.
I don't think this article agrees with me, though.