Tennis - Before Sloane Stephens' stunning breakthrough run at the Australian Open, the last time a young American had a dream breakthrough run at a grand slam was Melanie Oudin at the 2009 US Open and we all know how that story has turned out.
Oudin struggled with the weight of the expectations following her run to the quarter finals at Flushing Meadows and has never come close to repeating that form. For tennis' sake, we hope Sloane Stephens does not go down that same road. The 20 year old American has a big game and a charming personality that breathed new life on the women's circuit in Melbourne.
But Stephens has struggled with the expectations too since her run in Melbourne which included a win over current world no. 1 Serena Williams. And Oudin knows exactly how she must feel. In fact, Oudin has been offering advice to the 20 year old.
Speaking to the media in Charleston. Oudin commented, “I just told her I know exactly like how she feels.I mean her and I are the two, really, I guess kind of the same thing kind of happened and she told me, ‘I'm so glad that my Slam didn't happen in the States because it would have been like so crazy.’ She was glad it happened in Australia. But I think she'll be fine. She is also older than I was when it happened. And she was saying the other day that she was looking forward to going to Europe so that she was kind of [looking forward to] the American press corps wasn't following her around as much and she can kind of just operate under the radar.”
Stephens lost in the second round in Charleston this week - meaning she has won only 2 matches in 5 events since Melbourne.
“Definitely, I was disappointed with the way I was playing and I was like, 'Oh my God, this is terrible. But I mean obviously I really love clay, so to get out and not be able to play so well is definitely disappointing. The last three months have definitely been super-overwhelming and definitely really, really tough. But I think once I find my rhythm and find what I want, like how I have to handle certain situations, like before trying to really get focused and things are just too overwhelming and I can't do it, I just have to refocus and try and do my best.”
How to play from the baseline
The expression “to endure the rally” is about those indeterminate moments of a rally where none of the players is leading.
The ability to endure the rally is fundamental when you play a “long rally”, because it offers you the chance to measure your opponent’s strong points and vulnerabilities, besides letting you position as best as possible for your next offensive shot.