Vera Zvonareva is a professional tennis player from Russia. As of May 2011 she is ranked number 3 in the world.
Check out Zvonareva hitting some of her great passing shots!
Born in Moscow in 1984, Zvonareva is one of the many successful female professional tennis players from Russia. She had a very successful junior career during which she won the Orange Bowl tournament, which is considered the Junior World Championships, in 2000 and 2001.
She turned professional in the year 2000. Since then she has won over $10 million in prize money and achieved a career high ranking of number 2 in the world in 2010.
Before 2010 she did not have a lot of success in the Grand Slams but in that year she had a breakthrough and reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals. It will be interesting to see if she can win a major title in the next few years!
Let’s break down her game in the context of the four areas of Tennis!
I consider Vera’s forehand a solid but not a great shot. She usually has pretty good control over the stroke during those powerful baseline rallies with top level opponents. There are certain situations though in which she can struggle with the forehand.
Generally she tends to get in trouble with her forehand when she does not have a lot of time to complete her big swing!
She starts the motion with a good unit turn. She then continues on with a big arm action that takes her racket way back behind her back and the tip of her racket points even to the left of her body.
There are a few women on the tour that have a rather big backswing on the forehand but I can’t think of any other female top player that takes the racket as far back as Zvonareva does.
Essentially what happens is that this extra arm movement makes the swing more complicated to control without generating any extra benefits.
A more complicated swing means that you need a lot of time to prepare in order to hit the ball well!
Zvonareva practicing her groundstrokes
Can you see how far the racket goes behind her back ?
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Vera has a phenomenal backhand. It is her strongest shot and she can do almost anything she wants with it.
She wins a lot of points with down-the-line and cross-court winners from the backhand side. She can also create nice angles with the shot or hit defensive high topspin shots when necessary.
Not surprisingly the shot is very efficient
from a technical standpoint!
Zvonareva uses her body extremely well to generate pace with the backhand. She starts with a nice unit turn, taking the racket back towards the inside position and then uncoils her body from the ground up towards contact.
She is making great use of the kinetic chain which is the key to great groundstrokes!
To learn more about the kinetic chain visit the Tennis Strokes page on this website!
Equipped with a very good two-handed backhand and an explosive first step, Zvonareva rarely uses the slice backhand. I have only seen her hit a few from defensive positions that she seems to hit pretty good. I cannot really judge her slice backhand overall though.
Very is not a natural net player. She hits a two-handed backhand volley which of course severely limits her reach. Since she doesn’t come forward much it is difficult to even find video of her volleying.
She has had some decent success in doubles though so she might be slightly more comfortable at the net than her colleagues who do not play doubles at all.
What she is certainly good at is moving forward and finishing points with topspin volleys!
Zvonareva has had some ups and downs with her serve throughout her career. At times her ball toss was moving around a bit too much.
She can serve quite well though and at times she has been able to dominate matches with her first serve!
During her run to the Wimbledon finals in 2010 for example, she served extremely well and won a lot of free points with that first serve!
From a technical standpoint she definitely has one of the better service motions among the top women in the world!
Her motion is quite fluid and she incorporates some good shoulder turn away from the target into her serve!
The Zvonareva Serve: A fluid motion!
I believe Vera Zvonareva usually plays with a smart game-plan.
She is an offensive baseliner and most of the time she manages to put just the right amount of pressure on her opponents without over hitting or making too many unforced errors.
On defense she benefits a lot from her athleticism. She could probably be an even better defender if she would develop a better slice backhand and also use some high defensive shots more often.
Overall a little more variety would be a good addition to her already good game-plan!
Zvonareva is a very good athlete. She moves around the court extremely well and one of her biggest assets as a tennis player is her explosive first step!
She also has great balance in defensive positions. You can see this well when she hits some of those great passing shots.
She has been training at the Bollettieri tennis academy for years and most likely has made great use of the excellent physical training offered there!
The mental side of the game is the area that has been holding Vera Zvonareva back from even more success!
She is known for not being able to control her emotions on the court.
Vera Zvonareva: Sometimes lacks control of her emotions!
At the 2009 US Open Vera had what was later considered a meltdown match against Flavia Pennetta. During that match she cried during the second set tiebreak, aggressively ripped off the tape wrapped around her legs, got in arguments with the chair umpire, and smashed her racket into a post
Recently she seems to be able to manage her emotions a little bit better and has also had her biggest success reaching two Grand Slam finals in the 2010 season. Hopefully she can continue to improve in this regard!
I would rank Zvonareva’s skills in the following order:
Vera has a very strong game that could win her a few Grand Slam titles in my opinion.
The number one thing she needs to work on
though is her mental game!
She is often controlled by her emotions and therefore cannot keep a clear head to make important decisions during big matches.
She could also improve her forehand by shortening the swing!
If the swing does not go behind her back that much anymore, she could probably be a lot more accurate with those forehand shots.
Last but not least adding a little bit of variety to her game with an improved slice backhand and a better net game would make her even more dangerous!