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Great things were expected from our Belarusian athletes at Wimbledon this year

Placing high expectations

Great things were expected from our Belarusian athletes at Wimbledon this year; we sent a record number of representatives to the tournament. Whilst the qualifying numbers were cause for celebration, by the second week all had been knocked out of the tournament and hopes were dashed.

Victoria Azarenko and Serena Williams

Two Belarusians performed successfully in the qualification round which was a major achievement. Alexandra Sasnovich however, had already passed that stage at the US Open and we would rather applaud success in championships such as this than rest on qualification achievements. In 2013, Alexandra made a fantastic breakthrough but did not have such a strong year in 2014. Last year, the Belarusian ended her collaboration with her first coach, Igor Svetlakov. Vladimir Volchkov is now her official coach. Undoubtedly Vladimir is well placed to give advice, but he does not often attend tournaments with Alexandra, whose father is her usual companion on the tours. A coach who is able to spend more match time with her may be in a better position to offer analysis of her game and plan her training accordingly. She has well founded ambition to climb higher in the rankings: a new coach may be the way she will achieve these goals.

Result: defeat by Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas

Regarding Olga Govortsova, it is clear that, whilst she shows skill in each element of her play, it is power and strength that she is lacking. Her endurance is poor and, whilst she is effective defending high balls, by the beginning of a second set she starts to make mistakes. In this respect, she differs from the top tennis players who are continually running along the baseline in search of a winner (a shot that is not reached by the opponent and wins the point; sometimes also a serve that is reached but not returned into the court).

Result: defeat by America’s Madison Keys in the fourth round

Finally, Victoria Azarenko should be mentioned. After reaching a peak of success, it’s always hard to fall and then find the strength to rise again. Victoria’s performance is again improving due to her drive and hard work. She needs more time to regain her confidence and mental and physical strength. In one of her interviews, the multiple Grand Slam champion — who has suffered prolonged health problems — admits that she is in need of new challenges and experiences to stretch her capabilities. The Belarusian is again in the top-20 of the world rankings, no mean feat considering her difficulties.

Olga Govortsova

Result: third loss during the season; this time, in the quarterfinals against Serena Williams. Defeats by Serena seem to be Azarenko’s fate. When the Belarusian beats her, which must happen one day, we will be able to state that she has no equals.

Max Mirnyi recently celebrated his 38th birthday, a good age for doubles (some might think differently though). The top seeded Bryan brothers are not much younger: they are 37. Sadly, the Belarusian’s performance was not enough. In recent seasons, Max has changed partners and the world’s 42nd ranked doubles player has been spending time with his family; in 2014, his fourth child was born. Some may attribute his disappointing performance to these two factors.

Result: defeat in the first mixed round and defeat in the third round of the doubles event.

By Igor Grishin
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