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Pam Shriver’s Reflections on Australian Open 2018January 29, 2018
(First posted on Pam’s FB page.)
I want to reflect from 35,000 ft on last night’s final between two gutsy warriors. The battle was amongst the 2 or 3 favorite major finals in my years of playing and broadcasting. Two players, Simona and Caroline, who both deserve to win several majors before they retire, much less their first. Take it from me, just because you reach a major final say at 16 years of age and hang around the 3-7 ranking spot for a decade, there are NO guarantees you will win a singles major!!!!!!
When I called on ESPN Halep’s 1st round ankle turn and subsequent limping to finish that match, I did not think she would win her 1st major in Melbourne this year. She needs her movement too much to win the two week event. Then the Lauren Davis 15-13 saving 3 match points occurred for Halep in the 3rd round, and I thought of all the winners of marathon matches through the years, lost their next match. How could Halep keep progressing through the draw? She did progress until there were just two athletes left, earning everyone’s respect more and more.
A huge shout out to Darren Cahill, who even mid coaching career, is looking like one of the greatest coaches tennis has ever seen. His work with Hewitt, Agassi, and Halep plus many others shows that he can work across gender, generational, and with different playing styles and personalities. While Halep’s eye contact and reliance on him during matches is a lot, Darren offers quick signals that helps her stay on track. (BTW since most every coach does the same thing, we need to either legalize coaching mismatch or enforce the rule) Darren’s best work has come since last year’s RG finals devastating finals loss and other subsequent tough major defeats. He has helped her stay on track, believing her time will come to win a major and it will… I think. Anyway Simona reaching the final and playing a great match last night given all the adversity is a credit to her guts, determination, and talent. May your time to win a major arrive this year.
Caroline’s win last night is as popular as Kim Clijster’s first major win years ago at the US open with after many major final defeats. (Goran’s Wimbledon win was most sentimental for 1st time major wins in my lifetime.) Caroline showed over years a residency and graciousness during her quest for her first major that is admired by all of us in the game. Her instantaneous tears upon winning showed how much emotion was tied to winning her first major. From my court-side position for ESPN, it was as electric times 100. Immediately you felt joy for Caroline and devastation for Simona. As Simona said post match, it was just a tennis match!! It seems so much more at times.
Last night again shows why I fell in love with tennis 50 years ago. The skills needed to win at tennis are immense and all encompassing.
I am going to post this now typos and all and get some much needed sleep. God Bless those two special athletes last night. Thanks for putting on a match to remember forever.