Open my New York Times of last Saturday (Self knows, she knows, she is sooo behind — almost a week behind — on her NYT reading, what’s up with that? Last weekend it was Saturday, and suddenly today is Thursday, and self honestly does not know what happened to the rest of the week)
Read in the Times that French Open began on Sunday (which means that game self watched Tuesday, Andy Roddick vs. unknown Russian, was an early round: pity for Roddick flares suddenly), and NY Times has thoughtfully identified the list of skills which player needs to win title.
First, you need a big forehand like Federer’s or Nadal’s.
Second, a great one-handed backhand is a plus. In this category, Amelie Mauresmo, Roger Federer.
If you only have a two-handed backhand, then it must be great. In this category, Sharapova, Marat Safin.
You could also use a good return of serve. Something like Serena Williams’ or Lleyton Hewitt’s.
You must be able to get that killer first serve in, Exhibit A being Serena again, Sharapova again, and Roddick.
Your second serve must be forceful, like Serena’s (wow, this is getting boring, but must soldier on) or Roddick’s.
You must have a certain “touch”, like Mauresmo and Federer.
You must be able to volley, like Mauresmo (again), Federer (again and again and again, ad infinitum)
You must be able to move — which, excuse me Dear Times Editor, but isn’t that self-evident? I mean, one cannot play tennis rooted to one spot! Not, that is, unless one wants to play human target for cannonball serves. But, I digress. In this category, Times favors Venus Williams (“Huge wingspan with foot speed to match”), Nadal (“the best mover on clay ever”), and Federer (“Virtuosity is the mother of invention”)
Finally, the slipperiest category of all, mental toughness, which Times feels the following players have in abundance: Serena Williams (“self-belief personified”), Maria Sharapova (“Despite the occasional meltdown, generally hard to crack”), Lleyton Hewitt (“Perhaps there is still time for Stallone to watch a Hewitt movie”), Nadal (“positive energy is the rule”) and Roger Federer (“Why not believe after winning six of the last seven majors?”)
Self, as usual, applies such lessons to herself. Self does have all manner of tricks up her sleeve, perhaps she would not call them forehands or backhands, but does have killer tenacity (as witness persistence in calling herself a writer, even though she has not sold a story to a magazine in — in — never mind how long), “touch” (subtlety?) and aggressive volleying tactics (well, all right, passive aggressive volleying tactics). But, self needs to improve in “movement” category, must be able to, as Times puts it, “shift direction like a W.N.B.A. point guard” (If this is not working, if self keeps butting her head against bugaboo of elusive exclusive magazines who persist in rejecting her work, then must quickly be able to switch focus: yo, vanity press, prepare to greet self!), and must develop that elusive “mental toughness”, which means self must stop feeling brittle, must turn hard! Hard like steel! Hard like iron! Go, self, go!
Self will kindly excuse herself from blog now, in order to begin her training