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Can Martina still cut it?
Around the Academy:

Martina Navratilova
Martina rolled back the years at Wimbledon
Martina Navratilova has made a glorious return to Wimbledon, storming to a straight sets victory in her first singles match at SW19 in ten years.

But can the 47-year-old keep beating opponents 30 years her junior?

We asked Dan Thorp, the Academy's top tennis coach, to see how Martina will approach her matches.


What part will Martina's age play?

Although Martina's kept herself in incredible shape she will be slower around the court.

And when you have a serve-volley game like Martina it becomes quite serious.

Serve-volleyers are renowned for their speed around the court and of their reactions, just think of Tim Henman.

But good strategy in tennis is all about maximising your strengths and minimising your weaknesses.

Then you have to do the opposite to your opponent.

Martina Navratilova
Martina needs to hit down the centre court

What tactics will Martina use?

Navratilova's weakness is going to be her movement.

When she was at her peak she was happy to use all the angles on the court by serving out wide and then creating an angle to volley into the space.

But now she'll have to restrict her movement.

A way of doing this is to hit her approach shots down the centre. Then she won't create an angle for her opponent to attack.

If you hit the ball out wide you open up a bigger range of shots that your opponent can hit. They can go down the line, cross court or anything in between.

Martina will also keep the ball low because modern players are very comfortable with the ball when it's between waist and shoulder high.

This will force her opponent to hit the ball up which she can move in and then volley away.

Catalina Castano
Catalina Castano was blown away

Will she keep the points short?

Yes and getting into the net will be the main way to do this as she won't have the strength to win points from the baseline.

She'll be in on the opponent's second serve and she'll use anything short during a rally as an opportunity to get to the net.

But one of her strengths is the love of a battle and many of her opponents will be far less experienced.

How will she cope with the modern game?

Martina will struggle with the power and the spin of the ball coming to her.

In her pomp she was used to controlling the game but she might not be able to get inside the court because the ball will be hit deep, hard and with a lot of top spin.

Predictions?

If she does anything at Wimbledon then that is phenomenal but if there is one player who is a true phenomenon, then it's Martina.



Martina Navratilova factfile
Age: 47
Nationality: USA
Career titles: 167
Career earnings: $21m



INTERNET LINKS >>
:: Martina's WTA Tour profile
:: Wimbledon

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