The focus of a good strategy is to give the team a general perspective of what is their goal and the direction that they will take. If the team believes in the plan, they would comply with it. If the team disbelieves in the plan, they would either fight it or flee from it
A Good Strategy Was Not Enough for DementievaBy Geoff Macdonald
The Serena Williams-Elena Dementieva match was played at a remarkably high level for close to three hours. Dementieva’s serve may be the most improved shot on the tour, and she won a high percentage of both first and second serves against Williams, arguably the game’s best returner. Like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the men’s side, Serena and Venus Williams have elevated the level of play on the women’s tour, with their big serving, aggressive returns and seemingly indomitable wills. Give Dementieva credit for responding to the challenge; she was a shot away from the final, and, for long stretches of the match, outplayed Serena.
In addition to her improved serve, Dementieva wins matches with superb footwork and solid, heavy groundstrokes, struck flat with just a whisper of topspin. Her game plan Thursday was to direct as many penetrating shots as possible to Serena’s forehand, which can go awry if pressured. If you look at the serve statistics from the match, Dementieva served to the forehand a great deal, especially in the deuce court. She mixed it up, of course, to keep Williams from dialing in on her return. But in the deuce court, Dementieva hit 21 first serves wide to the forehand, winning 13 points. On her second serve, she was even bolder in attacking Williams’s forehand, serving 18 out of 21 second serves out wide. She won 17 points, 15 when going to the forehand.
In the ad court, Dementieva served wide as well, aiming 19 first serves out wide and converting on 15 of those attempts. On the second serve, she tried to go at the body, hitting 10 out of 13 right at Williams. Interestingly, she was less successful in the ad than the deuce. Perhaps adding a serve up the T in the ad will help Dementieva in her future battles with Serena Williams. It might have made a difference in Thursday’s match.
A tactic Dementieva employs against Serena Williams is to rarely engage in backhand crosscourt rallies. One way to think about playing Serena is to view her as a lefty with a huge forehand, and try to steer more balls to the forehand side. Craig Cignarelli, an excellent coach based in Los Angelas, calls this “switching the rally” in an article on John Yandell’s Web site, tennisplayer.net. Dementieva did this brilliantly for the first two sets, but less so in the third. Give Serena credit for working harder to set up on her forehand side, and she also went back up the line more often rather than always going crosscourt. This forced Dementieva to hit more often to Williams’s feared backhand.