That was the overall impression on watching [CR24] Sloane Stephens (USA) play today in her match against [CR96] Johanna Larsson (SWE).
I hesitate to say well done Larsson because I realize that she won due to Stephens’s ambivalence in play, which seems to be the theme lately. However, in all fairness, Larsson still had to play well enough to win. She seemed to want it more than her opponent and came away with the 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Stephens has all this power and supposedly all this skill, yet lately every time she steps on court there is something missing in her game. Her attitude is questionable. Is she really interested in playing tennis? It takes more than great shots and skills to be a champion. You may win a couple of matches and even get up there in the rankings, but your lack of desire will eventually manifest in your inability to win matches that you should win. Ultimately you will see less skilled or equally skilled players winning titles, while you are still struggling to get your first title.
At what point do you seriously evaluate your motivation, your commitment?
It would be a shame if someone as talented as Stephens does not live up to the expectations; however, I would much rather watch a match of someone with less talent who seems interested and engaged in giving 100% . You can have bad days, there is no doubt about that, but the player committed to the game will usually find ways to compete even when not at their best. That comes from a fire within, and that is what is missing from Stephens’s game at the moment.