Monday, June 2, 2008

An American [Success] in Paris

Programming note: For an enhanced blog experience, today's posts are meant to be read while listening to the New York Philharmonic play George Gershwin's An American in Paris.
To properly assess American failure and success in Paris, we need look no further than Robby Ginepri. The 80th ranked Ginepri made the fourth round! He is the last American in either singles draw. Ginepri is a great athlete and lazy ass who once made the semifinals of the US Open. When he’s working hard he’s a top 30 player. He had never won a match at the French before 2008 and had a dismal 6-24 career record on clay, but rededicated himself to tennis in late 2007 when he started working with Jose Higueras.

Jose was a two-time French semifinalist, but became a world-renowned coach, steering Jim Courier to the number 1 ranking and working with Chang, Sampras, Martin, Moya, Brugera, Dmitry Tursonov and Guerillmo Coria. Ginepri said that under Jose’s tutelage he’s viewing clay court tennis in a different way and [finally] learning how to construct points. Learning to construct points is probably the number one reason our players on both the men and women’s sides can’t win on clay… As Ginepri succinctly explained:
"Playing on clay is totally different than playing on a hard court," Ginepri said. "The movement, how you need to construct a point, the patience required, Jose and Diego have really helped show me how to best use my game in order to be successful on clay. I grew up on hard courts, so my mindset was always to try and win points, but on clay you can't always go for winners. It is the combination of offense and defense that is most rewarded on clay and that is something that has taken me a long time to figure out."
The go-for-broke Americans, including 2nd round losers Venus and Serena and James Blake, should just go ahead and get that quote tattooed on their foreheads right now. Blake was last seen around Roland Garros proudly talking about his refusal to ever not go for broke.

Jose Higeuras rarely travels anymore, but the part-time coach is pulling triple-duty during this French, with players Ginepri, Shaheer Peer and…. The Mighty Federer, his newest charge. Federer has seen the draw part like the red sea, leaving him with what could be his best opportunity to win this event, especially since he has struggled so much this season, slightly lowering public expectations. Watch out…

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