By Pablo Giacopelli, Coach of Shahar Peer (#14 WTA Player)
 
Hello, everyone, once again. It is great to be able to share with you the great journey and year Shahar and I are having during this 2010 season.
 
Through this blog I would like to focus on our recent tour on the European clay. Our tour began three weeks before we even went to Europe with a small clay pre-season on the clay court we use here in Israel.
 
Training
 
I believe very strongly in preparing the players through a tough training block before they change surfaces. In this case we were going from hard courts to clay, and as the type of tennis that is played on these two surfaces is so different, so are the systems that need to be trained.
 
Clay Court Season
 
After this training we began our tournament schedule in Stuttgart in the indoor event Porsche has been running successfully for so many years. There, Shahar reached the semi-finals, beating along the way an in-form Polona Hercog, Agnieska Radwanska and Dinara Safina, before falling to the eventual winner Justine Henin. Shahar did remarkably well and, of course, this was a very encouraging start to the clay season.
 
Next we went to Rome where she reached the last 16 before falling to Venus Williams. Then came Madrid where she reached the semi-finals again beating Sveta Kuznetsova, Alisa Kleybanova, Parra Santoja and Na Li on the way before falling to Venus Williams once again. She also reached the semi-finals in doubles next to Francesca Schiavone.
 
We then had a week off and trained in Paris before we began our Roland Garros campaign where Shahar reached the last 16 in singles and the quarter finals in doubles.
 
Battling With Mind and Heart
 
Now more than ever, after this tour, I am convinced that there is so much more to tennis than just hitting a yellow tennis ball. There is almost a spiritual side to this game. Players’ minds and wills are battling each other and for so many, battling themselves as well. The top players don't have themselves to battle as much, and I believe so often they prevail because they have more resources and energy available to them than their opponents, who are battling with doubt, fear, nerves, and all the negative things that prevent a human being from reaching their potential...even in a tennis game!
 
Developing Strategic Advantage 
 
One huge item in a players repertoire that can help to produce a kind of clarity and serenity is knowing the tactical weaknesses of your opponent as well as how to play in order to expose them and therefore beat them.
 
When I started working with Shahar she had no order in her game. She just ran from side to side and was very good at keeping the ball in play. However, without a clear game plan, it was hard for her to take advantage of a player's weaknesses and easier for her to lose focus.
 
iTUSA Match Analysis
 
 Throughout my time with her I have continued taking advantage of the match analysis program that iTUSA offers to all of us. This service has complemented my experience in building the correct patterns of play that have improved Shahar's game and has helped her achieve a new career-high ranking of 14 in the world.  http://www.itusatennis.com/match-analysis
 
We are now resting for a few days before we begin our preparations for the very short grass season where we will begin in Eastbourne before travelling up to Wimbledon.
 
I close by wishing you all a great summer or winter wherever you might be, and I hope that you have found reading this blog of mine as enjoyable as I have writing and sharing it with you.
 
Click here to see a great article published in the Jerusalem Post on the relationship between Pablo and Shahar Peer.

 

Over and Out!...February 19, 2010
 
Hello my dear friends from a sunny and warm Dubai.
 
Our run here in the Kingdom came to an end today against a very much in form Venus Williams. Shahar went down 6-2 and 6-4.
 
The first set was a one sided affair with Venus playing some great tennis and Shahar not being able to get going at all. The second set was a much different affair as Shahar began to play and take the initiative by becoming more aggressive and raising her intensity.
 
This gave her many more opportunities to impose the tactic we felt would work well against Venus and work well it did. There were two very important moments in the set when Shahar had key chances that she was unable to convert. One of these came at 3-3 with Venus serving. Shahar had a couple of break points, and in particular one where she a great chance to finish the point and get the break. This would have made a big difference I feel.
 
Still having said this Venus has not won 7 Grand Slams by chance. She is a great person and a great competitor. I admire her for many reasons and tennis is very fortunate to have someone like her. I would have still loved to see Shahar win but it was not to be.
 
I watched the match from a platform that was made behind the court as we played the match on a side court. I sat next to Shahar’s dad and Richard Williams his partner, and Venus coach Dave Witty whom I have had the chance to get to now here. He is a very nice guy and clearly a top coach. I wish him and Venus the best tomorrow in the final and truly hope that it goes their way.
 
After the match we returned to our private locker and stretched and met the press afterwards. I must say that even in the awkward and abnormal circumstances I have enjoyed the experience and of course leave Dubai very happy with Shahars performance.
 
This experience has shown what she has inside and the potential of what can still be done if we continue to work hard with determination and believe.
 
I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read the blog and hope we can catch up one day in person.
 
My very best to you all and a great huge thanks to itusatennis academy for inviting me and selecting me to write this blog for them and the rest of you.
 
I recommend to everyone to have a good look at their site, which is www.itusatennis.com as it is packed with great tools to help everyone from players to coaches to progress their games and teaching methods and programmes.
 
My very best to you all.!
 
Pablo
 

To read our blogs please visit http://itusatennis.blogspot.com