The Meltdown Queen came through

“If you perused the press notes this morning, you might have been inclined to send Vera Zvonareva a note of condolence even before she took to the court this afternoon for her U.S. Open semifinal against Caroline Wozniacki.”

This is how a columnist began his article on underdog Vera Zvonareva’s victory over hot favourite Caroline Wozniacki in this year’s US Open semifinal. In the article, the writer talks about how the media wrote the Russian off before the match, based on statistics which were heavily in favour of the Dane, such as her winning streak, the WTA tour singles finals she has won this year, the very small number of games she dropped en route to the semis. Of course, the media also highlighted “facts” that reflected badly on the Russian, such as her being the semifinalist who has won the fewest titles this season and collected the least amount of prize money, and cited examples of how she had a tendency of blowing away victories, branding her as the WTA Meltdown Queen even though she has gone a long way towards dispelling that reputation this year. The columnist cheekily wrote:

“You could almost write her concession speech for today: And on top of everything else, it was terribly windy out there and that really helped Caroline because she plays with so much topspin, while poor me hits flat and likes to be inventive. Hey, pass me that Kleenex, wouldja?”

Such reports are likely to affect any player not with great mental strength. Credits to Zvonareva, she didn’t let them get at her. “Last year is something that was in the past,” she said. “I had some experience last year, not only here at the U.S. Open, but the while year overall. I played a lot of matches. I take that experience and try to use it to my advantage. Never look back. I'm just looking forward all the time.”

The result of the match for which few people thought she stood any chance shows that it is probably this positive attitude which has seen her through the difficult circumstances. It also serves to prove two things. First, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb so strongly emphasizes in his book The Black Swan, experts are no better at predicting outcomes at their own business than outsiders, and the problems lies in their arrogance, namely, they think they know more than they actually do. Second, consuming the information from the media does not make us any wiser.

Another good reason not reading the newspaper.

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