Tag Archive | "King"

A Tale of Two Seasons:  Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tale of Two Seasons: Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes

Although the familiar saying states “all good things must come to an end”, when it comes to tennis it’s not necessarily the case.  While the 2010 season is over, in the blink of an eye the new one will commence.  Before turning to a fresh chapter, it’s important to reminisce and ponder what made this past year noteworthy.

At her first tournament after rejoining the tour, Justine Henin was a finalist in Brisbane.  The Belgian followed that result with a run to the final at the Australian Open.  In a compelling match, Serena Williams edged out Henin to defend her title and claimed her twelfth career major.  Despite Williams’ conquest, the road to victory was far from routine.  Thus, early indications were Williams would be fighting tooth and nail to retain the number one ranking.  Yet, in the end, injury became Serena’s speed bump rather than her fellow competitors.

Following Australia, a knee injury caused Williams to put her feet up for a few months.  In May, a healthy Serena returned to competition.  Subsequent to being stunned in the French Open quarterfinals, Williams successfully defended her Wimbledon title.  However, days after her triumph, Serena suffered a freakish foot injury.  Initially, the damage seemed inconsequential.  But, as the weeks went by, Serena withdrew from tournament after tournament and underwent surgery.  Ultimately, Wimbledon proved to be Serena’s last event of 2010.

Ironically, Serena’s similar fate befell Henin.  After being booted in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, Henin turned her focus to Wimbledon the underlying reason for her comeback.  With a title at a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Henin was a serious contender to capture the sole major which has eluded her. But, after easily carrying the first set against Kim Clijsters, Henin fell on her elbow and eventually loss in the round of 16.  What at first seemed an innocuous tumble prematurely terminated Henin’s year.

After being upended in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open by Na Li, Venus Williams caught a full head of steam and defended back to back titles in Dubai and Acapulco.  Then, Venus made the finals at the Sony Ericsson Open and the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.  Consequently, Venus’ ranking peaked at number two.  Days after celebrating her 30th birthday,  the five time Wimbledon champion stepped on the grass with high hopes for a sixth crown.  However, in the quarterfinals, Venus was sent packing by Tsvetana Pironkova.  Later at the U.S. Open, Williams watched an opportunity to advance to the final evaporate, going down to Clijsters.  Bothered by a knee issue, after New York, Venus sat out the remainder of the season.

No ifs and or buts, Clijsters is back.  After besting Henin in the Brisbane final, Clijsters rebounded from an early exit at the Australian Open by thrashing Venus in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Although a foot injury prevented Clijsters from participating at the French Open, the following month the Belgian reached the semifinals at Wimbledon.  Subsequent to a sensational win in the final in Cincinnati, Clijsters repeated in New York and earned her third U.S. Open title.  Clijsters capped the year with the number three ranking and the WTA Championships trophy in Doha.

In placing one’s bet at the start of 2010, Maria Sharapova, Henin and Clijsters would have been regarded as the candidates likely to supplant Serena at number one.  Instead, Williams was toppled from that spot by a great Dane.  Last year, as a runner-up at the U.S. Open, Caroline Wozniacki demonstrated that she is a legitimate rival.  With Serena sidelined by injury, Wozniacki scaled up the ranking by winning six tour titles and making the finals in Indian Wells and Doha.

Despite being halted in the round of 16 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at the French Open and the semifinals at the U.S. Open, consistency week in and week out was the key to Wozniacki taking over at number one.

Another individual who had a spring in her step in 2010 is Vera Zvonareva. The Russian followed her first major final at Wimbledon with another at the U.S. Open.  Although Zvonareva fell to Serena and Clijsters respectively, because of her phenomenal performance, Zvonareva shot up to the number two ranking.

Other names to come into the spotlight this season include twenty year old Petra Kvitova who stunned Victoria Azarenka and Wozniacki before being knocked out in the Wimbledon semifinals by Serena.  Along with Li, countrywoman Jie Zheng advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open.  Perhaps the unlikeliest ones to rise above the fray were veterans Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur.

After beating Henin, Serena and Jelena Jankovic at the French Open, 26 year old Stosur booked her maiden major final spot.  With a victory over Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Schiavone sauntered into the French Open final as a result of Elena Dementieva retiring in the semifinals with a calf injury.  First time major finalist Schiavone took full advantage of her good fortune.  Less than a month prior to her 30th birthday, Schiavone prevailed over Stosur becoming the first Italian woman to win a major.

In doubles, Serena and Venus triumphed in the finals at the Australian and French Opens while Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were claimed by the new pair of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.  The number one doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber had an acrimonious divorce in April.  With the break up of Huber and Black and injuries affecting the Williams’, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko with six titles and the WTA Championships trophy ended the year as the top doubles team.

For the second consecutive year, Italy dismissed the U.S. to take the Federation Cup. Former French Open champion and world number one Ana Ivanovic redeemed her season by pocketing the Tournament of Champions trophy in Bali and reintegrating herself in the top twenty.  Nothing but bad news for former world number one Dinara Safina.  Limited by a back problem, Safina hardly played and finished the year ranked 63rd.

At the WTA championships, Dementieva dropped a bomb announcing her retirement after her last round robin match.  The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and two time major finalist felt at 29 years of age the time had arrived to seal this phase of her life and move on to another.

It is impossible to dissociate 2010 from 2011 with injury already a factor in the year to come.  With her foot still on the mend, Serena proclaimed she will not defend her Australian Open title.  As such, the first major of the year will be up for grabs.  Will Clijsters seize her first major other than the U.S. Open?  Can Wozniacki silence all doubters and show she really belongs at the top spot?  Will Zvonareva draw on the positives from 2010 and take the final step to the major’s winner circle?  Will it be Sharapova or Henin reliving their past success down under?  In contemplating the outcome of the Australian Open, the permutations seem infinite.  With all these questions, the first major portends that the upcoming season will be a fascinating one to follow.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Serena Williams Carves Her Place Along Side the Elites with Her 13th Major

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Serena Williams Carves Her Place Along Side the Elites with Her 13th Major

Undisputedly, Serena Williams adores the spotlight and Wimbledon is the Oscars of the tennis stage.  In the finals at the All England Club,  defending champion Williams overpowered Vera Zvonareva, the 21st seed, 6-3,6-2 to win her fourth Wimbledon trophy and her thirteenth major overall surpassing the great Billie Jean King.

Zvonareva was making her debut in the finals at a major and Williams did not rely on first timer jitters to knock out her opponent.  In 2004, an intrepid teenage newcomer seeded 13th, Maria Sharapova stunned world number one Williams to take the Wimbledon title.  From the very first game, Serena demonstrated that she had learned her lesson.  With a backhand down the line winner, Williams held at love to open the match.  Showing no nervousness, Zvonareva carried her first game easily.  Despite throwing in two double faults and being pushed to deuce the next couple of games, Serena guarded serve to stay ahead 3-2.  When Zvonareva’s forehand up the line landed out of play, Williams had her first break point.  However, Zvonareva forced the miscues from Serena to level the set at 3 a piece. After Serena had no trouble guarding serve, Zvonareva double faulted on game point for deuce.  With a nice lob, Serena obtained another mistake from Zvonareva for her second break point of the game.  With an incredible running forehand up the line winner, Serena broke for 5-3.  Then, on her third set point, Serena caused Zvonareva to flub another forehand to pocket the set.

Under pressure, Zvonareva’s troubles multiplied in the second set.  By dumping a backhand crosscourt into the net, Serena earned a break point the first game.  When Zvonareva’s forehand missed its destination, Serena took the initial game.  Subsequently, with a backhand volley winner, Serena consolidated for a 2-0 edge.  From that point on, Serena never removed her foot from the accelerator.  With another smoking running forehand, Serena provoked a forehand miscue from Zvonareva for double break point in the fifth game.  Although Zvonareva saved those two, she sent another forehand into the net giving Serena a third chance.  This time Williams did not have to strike the ball, by double faulting, Zvonareva gifted her a 4-1 lead.  The remainder of the match, Serena surrendered just one point on her serve and with a love game to capture the championship.

After the match, Zvonareva had nothing but praise for her rival “you’re a great player and a great champion … you’ve shown great determination throughout the week”.  The Russian conceded “I’m a little disappointed . . . [but] Serena did not allow me to show my best”.  Zvonareva could not manufacture one break point.  Williams connected on 66% of her first serves and won 94% of those points. In addition, Serena did not loose a set on as she claimed the title.

Since the pain is still fresh, Zvonareva said it’s hard to see the positives. But the Russian admitted that when she reflects in a couple of hours, she will have a better perspective.  After all, “I’ve been dreaming of playing Wimbledon since I was a kid”.  Considering the hardship that Zvonareva has gone through the last year with her ankle injury, “I was doubting that I was going to ever play”.  Zvonareva expressed her gratitude to the people who have stuck by her and aided her to arrive at this moment including her surgeon who was present. Indeed, for Zvonareva, there’s a ton to be proud of.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Not So Odd:  Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major

Tags: , , , , ,

Not So Odd: Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major

img_1710January 30, 2010

Defending champion Serena Williams’ proclivity to win the Australian Open in uneven years is well documented. Regrettably for Justine Henin, Serena decided not to stick to tradition in 2010.  In the final, Serena blocked Justine 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to claim her fifth Australian Open trophy.

Serena was under the gun from the first game. Williams dumped a forehand into the net to give Henin double break point.  But, as she has done over and over this fortnight, with good serves, Serena salvaged a four deuce game.  After holding serve, helped by the net, Henin earned another break point with a backhand return winner. Again, Serena erased the deficit with an ace.  Supreme at saving break points, Serena captured this five deuce game with an overhead winner for 2-1.  Subsequently, aided by a Henin double fault, Serena set up triple break point with a backhand crosscourt winner.  Williams capitalized when Henin’s forehand went wide. However, due to a rash of errors Williams faced double break point.  After saving one with an ace, Serena got a break when a backhand volley winner by Justine was mistakenly judged long; the point was replayed.  On the do-over, Serena consolidated for 4-1.  Later, Serena handed Justine two chances to get back on serve with a series of miscues.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Justine did just that and went on to equalize the set at 4 all.  Yet, after Serena captured her game at love, Justine donated a couple of set points with a double fault and backhand error.  When Henin’s backhand skinned the net and landed long, Williams secured the first set.

In the second set, Henin and Williams traded roles. The second game, Justine came up with a couple of great serves to obliterate double break point.  Afterwards, with a backhand winner, Justine broke Serena at love for a 2-1 edge.  Still, the very next game, Henin allowed Williams to level the set.  At 2-3, after dismissing another break point, Henin reached a great drop and flicked a forehand volley crosscourt winner for advantage point.  When Serena netted another forehand, the set was equalized at 3.  Energized, the next game, Henin manufactured a second break opportunity with a backhand volley winner and converted when Williams’ backhand traveled long.  After Henin consolidated with a love game for 5-3; she broke Serena at love to capture the set.

In the decisive set, Henin opened with a love hold.  Then, when Serena’s attempt at serve and volley failed, Henin had double break point.  Once again, Serena bombed a couple of aces to shovel herself out for 1 all.  Subsequently, as Justine’s forehand up the line sailed long, Serena arrived at double break point.  With a sinking backhand stroke, Serena caused Justine to push the backhand volley into the net, thereby obtaining the break for 2-1.  But, with three consecutive forehand errors by Williams, Henin was at triple break point.  When Henin crushed a forehand return crosscourt, the set was equalized.  Still, with another double fault by Henin and a backhand up the line winner, Serena got another break opportunity.  Serena cashed in when Justine bungled an easy backhand crosscourt.  Despite pressure from her rival, Serena stretched her lead to 4-2 with a second serve ace. Then, with a dipping backhand, Serena forced Henin into a backhand volley mistake leading to two break opportunities.  When Henin’s backhand floated long, Williams took a commanding 5-2 edge.  Serena sealed the championship with backhand crosscourt winner.

As a former world number one, hopes were high that Henin would do well upon rejoining the tour.  Nevertheless, the final of her first two tournaments including a major, even for Henin, that is tantamount to a dream.  Just four weeks after returning, Henin will be ranked in the top 40.

In the quarterfinals against Victoria Azarenka, Serena had perhaps the comeback of her career.  After being ahead 6-4, 4-0, Azarenka who played spectacularly from start to finish came out on the losing end.  This was the hint that this would be yet again Serena’s year.  Serena becomes the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2002 to successfully defend.  Williams also ties Billy Jean King with 12 majors.

Posted in NewsComments (0)