Sam Stosur – you are the best – in more ways than one!

Sam Stosur was fantastic on Sunday.  She outplayed, out hustled, out served, and definitely out – composured Serena.

And where so many players are reactive if not passive against Serena, Sam took the game to her with attacking returns, excellent serving, and overall superlative play.  I would imagine that is the best Sam has ever played, and to think it came in a final, to a player who had prior to this occasion won only two singles titles on the WTA tour.

A note about the press.  Somehow far too many became fixated on the disputed call, where Serena yelled prior to Sam’s reply. The rules are the rules, a similar call was made against Bartoli, and that should be enough.  But in the initial post match movements, the cameras focused on Serena packing her bags rather than on the beaming champion.  Are we so controlled by the culture of celebrity that we couldn’t simply train the cameras on Sam.  And finally, so much of the post match commentary again focused on the disputed call nonsense.

So here goes on non-nonsense.  And for this one, the stats tell the story –

  • Serena served 52% on first serves and won 62% of those points
  • Sam served 65% on first serves and won 73% of those points
  • Serena won 33% of the points on her second serve
  • Sam won 63% of the points on her second serve
  • The were more or less equal in the winners department Serena hit 19 and Sam hit 20

So the story here is serve and return.  Sam handled Serena, especially Serena’s second delivery, and please remember the glorious inside out forehand winner she struck from the ad court on her third championship point.

And secondly, Sam had her way on service games, with Serena really unable to attack or in some cases even keep the return in play.

So before you go out on court and work on your own kick serve, for truly Sam has the best one by far on the women’s tour, take some time to see and or recall how she used her legs, how she arched her back to reach up and left at impact, and how much action she had with her arm, forearm and wrist on the hit.  Her’s is a heavy if not vicious spinning delivery.  Sometimes a little flatter and to the corners, other times kicking up and away from Serena when out wide in the ad, or kicking up and into her forehand jamming her in this same ad court.

I have footage of Sam’s serve, and it is one of the instructional elements within Mastering the Kick Serve.  If you are interested please check it out but be advised, there are a number of elements to master for your own kicker, and you have to be careful with your lower back (from arching) and your shoulder (from reaching up and to the left).

P.S. As to the more ways than one comment in the title, two things.  Sam was scheduled on the grandstand court for her semifinal match, and was put at somewhat of a disadvantage, for she never played on Arthur Ashe stadium whereas Serena played most (if not all) of her matches there.  And Sam made no fuss about this at all.  But second, some years ago Sam volunteered for a research project at Stanford University on the serve, I was allowed to observe, and Sam and her coach were open, friendly, no star presence, no special treatment, just two delightful Aussies.  Sam, your victory on Sunday made my day!

36 Comments

  • will

    Reply Reply September 22, 2011

    what a magnificent tennis battle between serena and sam..obviously sam emerged as adominant in the game..

    goodluck!! to sam u are nw my favorite……more winnings sam!!!!

  • Noel

    Reply Reply September 15, 2011

    I don’t know where I asked you this, so I am asking you again if you know, Does Sam Stosur use an eastern backhand grip on her kick serve, as some have said she does.

    Thanks,

    Noel

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 15, 2011

      Noel – to my eye it is between a continental and an eastern
      Jim

  • Rodger Schuester

    Reply Reply September 14, 2011

    I think there is something to be said here about the fitness aspects of the game. Surely Sam was above Serena in her fitness, mobility, and strength levels. Seems to me that is a trend to keep an eye on as women’s tennis needs Sam and Serena to demonstrate the value of it. Certainly one of my take aways is to continue my fitness program I started 5 weeks ago as I can see its value in my recent tennis games.

  • Lew

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more!

  • Trish Howell

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Could not agree more! How could it be we would rather see someone from another country win rather than one of our own? Sad Huh? But true. Serena has shown herself to be exactly what she is. Too bad, but at interviews – and same with Venus – they never have anything to say – get a publicist for goodness sake, or learn how to speak. Her idle threats just show how much of a bully she really is – no class. Leave now Serena – you are dismissed!

  • Joannis Roidis

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Time to Serena retire……………

  • Jack

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Thanks Jim for a nice piece! I remember you mentioned before that Stosur has the best kick among WTA players, and boy what an enjoyment to watch, not only her kick serves, but also her forehand!

    Big plus to Sam for putting up a great show, with CLASS!

    A plus to the umpire for not bending over to a start status

    Big minus to Serena for downright rude, AGAIN. Being competitive does not mean ‘hate’ or ‘choke’ someone. She has been given way much attention. I want to see more Sam, Kim, Caroline, less the sisters.

  • DAVID.BAKER

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    GOES TO SHOW THE GOODENS DO WIN SOME OF THE TIME

  • Noushin kananian

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Thanks for sharing. It’s really appreciated your hardworking.

  • Nelly

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    I love your comments. I also think Sam was great, specially not losing focus during Serena´s star tantrum! She stayed in better than the great Roger who was distracted by Djoko´s clowny gestures during those critical points about to close the match by Roger.
    And the press should dare to criticize Serena´s attitude more openly, eventhough US does not have any other outstanding player like Serena, and that is probably why she does not get the rejection she should. But, the example of a fine player should be set straight by not condoning her arrogant behaviour.

  • John Newton

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Amen Jim! You said it all!. John

  • Dan Dolsberry

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    I was was surprised seeing Sam and Serena side by side. Sam looks so physical compared to all the other women – except Serena. I agree the umpire did the right thing taking the point away – I wish they could find a way to define an excessive grunt. A grunt should be allowed – but not a shriek at the top of your lungs.

  • Rolando M. Lagarto

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    You’re heaven sent Jim! All these info’s are very very very welcome as I can’t afford landline internet connections here & my internet acces now is sponsored by my barangay for being on a voluntary work for human rights preservation in our place. Thank you so much, God bless you…

  • paul findlay

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Great analysis! Sam took it to her and never let up. Mentally, she was able to get past the distraction in the 2nd set and carry out her game plan. So much for the kinder, gentler Serena. The Williams family needs to get past this belief that everyone is out to get them. I believe they suffer from some form of racism themselves, and Serena’s tirades are, quite frankly, disgusting and unprofessional.

  • Jerome Inen

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    I think we all are a bit hard on Serena. As The Telegraph wrote:

    “She (Serena) even partially redeemed herself by going to sit with Sam ahead of the presentation ceremony. Who knows what they talked about, but it certainly looked good. “It shows you what a nice person she is that she can separate the result,” Stosur said. “Pretty classy.”

    I fear that most tennisplayers behave just like Serena during matches. Few of them behave Serena AFTER matches though… when she is usually very friendly and gracious towards her opponents.

    In all: coaches, parents and officials are much too leniant on behavuour like this.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 13, 2011

      Jerome – agreed, Serena was very gracious in the post match ceremonies
      Jim

  • John Butler

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    Hi Jim,
    Sam Stosur has improved her defense as well as attack and in particular the sliced backhand. She has lengthened her preparation(a la Ken Rosewall) instead of just jabbing at the ball. I suspect Wally Masur has helped Sam when training in Sydney. Neutralising Serena’s backhand drive and her serve with the slice kept Sam in position for her powerful topspin shots( also improved preparation on these shots by lifting and lengthening swing not shortening as emphasized by some American coaches ).

    By the way, Aussies respond strongly to intimidation! Good on you, Sam for displaying the virtues which made Australian tennis formidable in the past.
    Best Wishes,
    John Butler, Level Tennis 2 Coach & retired Chemistry Teacher

  • susan moseley

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Agree with you completely re Stosur/Williams match– My husband and I have always liked her as a player and a person–and have watched her do so well in doubles for years– have seen her numerous times at Indian Wells which we attend every year. Nice to see her succeeding in singles and to have kept her cool so well. I don’t believe chair umpires should have to be subjected to the kind of verbal abuse Serena dished out. There should be some consequences for that behavior. Ironic and sad that it got her crowd support too- SUSAN MOSELEY

  • Reno

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Serena was only fined $2K for her obnoxious and uncalled for comments! She showed no class and Sam showed all class in this match. I was rooting for Serena at the start of the match, and ended rooting for Sam Stosur. The call was good, it was exactly by the rules, and Serena thought the rules didn’t apply to her. Her actions were a blatant attempt to rattle Sam and steal the match — it didn’t work and it shouldn’t have.

    I coach a high school girls team and today I had to explain that if I ever saw any of them act the way the Serena did in the match, they would be off the team. I did say that the way Sam Stosur acted was the way champions act . . . good sportsmanship at all times, prevail in the face of everything her opponent could throw at her, don’t let the surrounding noise etc bother your game. What a great champion.

  • Ed Pena

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Hi Jim,
    I agree with your statement 100%, the most important for a player specially on the professional level is the “mindset” some players are already beaten even before they entered the court, I mean is that they are intimidated by the opponent and instead of having a strategy to work with they always and often just react to whatever the “superior” players is going to throw at them.

    Mindset to me is very important, as in the case of Federer, whenever he sees that Nadal is waiting on the next game he always ended up losing to his opponent, maybe as a way to avoid playing Nadal again, surely everyone saw the two matchpoints there.

  • D Margison

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    What a match! When it started I have to say I was in support of Serena because of what she has been through over the last year. I could not believe her childish attitude when the umpire appropriately awarded a point to Sam when for rude and unsportsmanlike behavior. Worse, I couldn’t stand to listen to John McEnroe’s ranting either. Sam Soseur deserved the win. Serena deserved to lose a point, and I totally agree that the media missed the mark by a mile by focusing on Serena after the match. By the way, what good is a $2,000 fine after winning 1.3 Million dollars. What kind of deterent to unsportsmanlike behaviour is that!!!
    But what a match it was. Has to go down as one of the best quality US Open women’s finals in my books.. Now if I could only master the kick serve!

  • J T Howell

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    What a delight to see Sam Stozur have success in the largest area. I have been a fan of hers for years. I was worried about her since I had not heard about her this year.

    Her persona was wonderful. She came to play, not show off. I hope she gets many more titles.

    JTH

  • William Dunn

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Jim,

    I couldn’t say it any Better! Sam Stosur carried on the long Australian tradition of giving her best effort under all circumstances, being unfailingly fair and focused throughout the match, and especially of keeping her mental resolve throughout the disturbance Serena caused with her lapse of court ettiquette. I think Serena’s exuberance on that one shot got the best of her, I do not think she was purposely trying to rattle Sam with her vocal shout, though it did come out and certainly was, in my opinion, correctly ruled as a hindrance. Serena’s unforgivable response in trying to play the effect of her shout down was unkind and rude at best to Sam’s position. I hope, in restrospect at least, Serena acknowledges that she did indeed commit a hindrance, and though unintentional, still had the potential to affect Sam’s shot.

    I was thrilled that Sam Stosur got a grand slam title, and like you, felt way too much attention was given to Serena’s blunder, rather than Sam’s achievement. Samantha Stosur showed nothing but class and resolve throughout the entire match. Good on her!!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 12, 2011

      Bill – thanks for the thoughtful note – Sam made my day
      hope to go to the Oz Open in 2012 – will keep you posted
      best
      Jim

  • john macdonald

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Hindsight is wonderful. The press pounced on the story of the moment. If it did not, we would have hollered “why” because we wanted to know more right away. Very easy to say what should have or should not have been done a day later.

  • vipm

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    The press really took away from Sam Stosur’s victory. Instead of concentrating on her wonderful and powerful performance, they small-mindedly decided to concentrate on the trifle, the silliness. Good thing when you watch the match again, you can put that aside and concentrate on the great strokes. I really wish the press would stop emulating Rupert Murdoch-style sensationalism and get some decency back.

  • b.wallace

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Pro-american broadcasting has gone too far again. Serena continues to think she is above the rules. The rules are the rules and when she continues to be such a negative example to the youth of America she should not only be fined(ha, ha, 2,000.00) but banned for a period of time. What kind of person behaves that way with so many people watching? Grow up!!Greatness goes far and beyond what you do on the court Serena. Look at Agassi and what he has accomplished in THIS country.
    Give others credit when they actually beat you, it’s called humble. Look at Rafa. Too many great examples out there to spend any time talking about Serena and her tantrums. Move on.

  • Laura

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Sam did a magnificent job. She has worked very hard and deserved the title. I was disgusted that Serena stole Sam’s limelight, but her behavior just made Sam look even classier. Her kick serve is fantastic, and even her backhand, which is usually weak, was good. Congrats, Sam!

  • Mehul Shah

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Jim,

    Does the American tennis need Serena so much? Bartolli also had got the same call earlier in the tournament, no one even talked about it. Agreed this happened on a bigger stage but now they are questioning the legitimacy of the rule – because the call was made against Serena!! For her outburst, she is fined $2,000. She got away even 2 yrs back over that foot fault controversy.

    Regards,
    Mehul

  • S. Fischer

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    It’s the same with the press and golf. . .they are obsessed with Tiger Woods even when he is far below the play of others. Sam Stosur is a refreshingly rising tennis player who handled it all with aplomb.

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    I’m also in complete agreement with you.

    My wife and I were discussing Sam’s use of the wrist – not just on her serve but also on her groundies. The acceleration of the racket head is remarkable and unlike what is seen with most females. The wifey, who played no ball sports growing up and who has a twelve mile per hour first serve, thinks it might be because Sam grew up playing “boy” sports. I’m thinking that it must be something far more than that, but have no idea where it comes from. I also think it must be more than just “strength”. (I also find Sam’s musculature attractive).

    The other thing that jumped out at me was that Sam’s composure struck me as being almost “unnatural” – almost as if she were in some sort of trance. It was brought up during the match that she has worked with a sports psychologist, but, wow. Can it work *that* well?? I was *most* impressed with her. Congrats!

    BTW, none of the announcers seemed to know anything about the hindrance rule. Here’s one guy who’s hoping that it will be brought to the fore by the opponents of some of the “screechers”. 🙂

    Kevin
    Savannah

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 12, 2011

      Kevin – yes to something about the sports psychologist, Sam had an “unnatural” focused calm about the court. As to “boy” sports, when I was with them at Stanford for the research, her coach said she had this basic kicker motion as a 12 year old – which is truly amazing.
      Jim

  • Kaushal

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Great article,Jim. The main reason I don’t like Serena is because she is classless.

  • estelle

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    Jim – your comments are spot on. I watched the match yesterday and was supremely impressed by Sam’s play and composure. And when she won the match, I was flabbergasted that the cameras were on Serena. I yelled out (to the TV) “this is Sam’s moment and she is the tournament champion; give her the recognition and take the cameras off of Serena.” In the end, you could tell Sam was thrilled and did not allow any negativity ruin her day.

  • E. Cook

    Reply Reply September 12, 2011

    I heartily agree with your assessment of the US Open Women’s final. Sam Stosur played beautifully and so effectively against Serena Williams. And, as you implied, a class act. Your comments about the press are spot on, and I would go further in stating that the commentary from John McEnroe was not only dead wrong concerning the “deliberate hindrance” rule, but unfairly stoked the controversy. It’s fortunate that American Express broadcasts match commentary so that spectators at Ashe Stadium were able to hear that the ruling from the chair was correct.

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