Sunday, September 7, 2014

Serena Williams wins U.S. Open in style

Something about Serena Williams' leopard print Nike dress said "I'm not messing around here" from the onset of this year's U.S. Open. There was just a feeling in the air (and--from my standpoint--way too much Katy Perry in the air). Williams hadn't gotten past the round of 16 in the three other majors held this year and it was hard to imagine her doing her version of "crashing out" in the last one.

And as great as Williams was in today's final--and she was great--the real story, I think, is a sad one, and one that commentators are stepping around. But I won't step around it: What the hell happened to Caroline Wozniacki? The genuinely "new and improved" Dane--the one who took Maria Sharapova out of the tournament--must have been locked in a closet somewhere while a doppelganger of "the old Caroline" (and a poor version of the old Caroline, at that) took to the court to contest the final.

Ekaterina Makarova should have done much better against Serena in the semifinals, but the Russian is known for her match-to-match inconsistency. But Wozniacki? She's consistent if nothing else. Down a set, she waited until the latter part of the second set to finally hit a non-ace winner. It was the only one she would hit in the entire match (plus three aces). Hello! You have added so much to your game and you are playing Serena Williams. In a major final. What's wrong with this picture?

As for Williams, she hit 29 winners and had first and second serve win percentages of 77 and 52, while her opponent's percentages were 56 and 38.

Williams defeated Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 (Wozniacki did play a lot better in the second set), and won her 18th singles major. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who each won 18 singles majors, presented her with a gold bracelet. I thought that was lovely, though I thoroughly disapprove of the comparisons commentators and writers do regarding the number of majors players have won. It means nothing. In the Navratilova/Evert era, players weren't even counting the number of majors they won. They frequently skipped the Australian Open because it was held during the Christmas holidays. Evert skipped three French Opens (yes, French Opens) because she was playing World Team Tennis. Same on the men's side: The legendary Rod Laver wasn't allowed to play a number of majors because the Open era had not been established.

There were other winners today. Maria Bouzkova won the junior girls' championship when she defeated 9th seed Anhelina Kalinina 6-4, 7-5 in the final. Bouzkova is the first Czech girl to win the championship.

Top seed Yui Kamiji won the women's wheelchair singles title, defeating 2nd seed Aniek Van Koot 6-3, 6-3. Yesterday, Kamiji and partner Jordanne Whiley won the doubles Grand Slam. Kamiji also won the French Open.


sunny nine said...

Well, you took the words right out of my mouth. Sogn couldn't watch, so I was telling him that the old Wozniacki showed up. She recently hit 26! winners against Errani. And when I didn't see many myself (except the aces and the one you pointed out) I realized that if I noticed that one so much, she couldn't have gotten many others by me. Actually at times, she looked a little lost and scared, not the gutsy person we have been seeing lately.
I was hoping for a good 3 setter (no matter who won) like Azarenka gave Williams the last 2 years. You need to come with your best when playing Williams in the final of a Major. Where was the old or new Wozniacki? A couple times she looked around at her box which is sad because she is used to using her dad so, so much during WTA matches that I wonder how she does well at a Major.
Well it will be Australia Day before we know it.

Diane said...

I was stunned. I didn't see that coming. I, too, thought 3 sets, and with Serena winning. But not that Wozniacki would just fold.

Nondisposable Johnny said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking "Caroline, what is possessing you to believe you can play passively against SERENA WILLIAMS IN A MAJOR FINAL and have any hope of winning?" She's not the only one to have that problem over the years. It's like a lot of players just want to keep the score respectable. (Used to see a lot of the men play with the same passivity aagainst Federer in his prime....folks, the score doesn't matter....just L and W)

Karen said...

From where I was sitting, Serena never gave Woz a chance to get into the match. This is the Serena that everyone was thinking would have got to 18 earlier this season and passed it. Its been awhile since I have seen Serena hit with so much depth and precision. Her tennis was as free flowing as I have ever seen it. At one point when they showed the stats, Woz had done almost twice the number of miles on the court as Serena had (in this match). Serena was just dictating and honestly there was nothing Woz or anyone could do to withstand this Serena. She just would not be denied.

Diane said...

Serena was awesome, especially with all that controlled aggression, but I really think that Caroline caved somewhat.

sunny nine said...

Karen, I agree with much of what you said. I also thought that Williams was dictating-and with no disrespect to Wozniacki, the latter was like a "puppet on the string" at times. I just feel that the new Wozniacki should have ventured in more and if Williams kept passing then I could see Wozniacki retreating into her old self. You have to risk being passed to come in. So since Wozniacki didn't try, it was either because she just didn't want to take the risk (which I feel is ashame) or because Williams was pinning her to the back of the court. Yes, I feel Williams play was exceptional and Williams in a final usually won't be denied. But I still wanted to see the fire in Wozniacki's eyes that told me she was thinking about trying her new game, and then trying it, even if Williams was pinning Woz back. Personally I would rather see Woz going down swinging to a champion playing like Williams than going down meekly.

Karen said...

sunny, I completely agree, especially the part about going down swinging. She said she was a bit nervous at the start, but frankly she never got a chance to even catch her breath. Serena was hitting with depth, power and placement. You are right, Woz was like a puppet on a string. Serena just stood in the middle of the court and dictated. There was no way anyone playing this Serena would have won. She would not be denied this title.

Diane, Caroline may have caved, but this was not her first Grand Slam final and frankly she did all that hard work in 6 matches without daddy holding her hand, believing that she belonged and when the going got tough, she went away. I am hoping that she takes this loss and comes back stronger. Would be good to have another player in the top 10 who can bring a different mix to the WTA party.

But man, this Serena is just vintage.

Diane said...

Last two matches, two excellent opponents, Serena brought it. Amazing.