Just how great is Serena Williams these days? She won her 17th Grand Slam title from 53 appearances. To show just how good she has been and still is, Martina Navratilova played 67 Grand Slam singles events and Chris Evert played 56. They both have 18 singles titles. Serena is one win away from tying them. Most people think that it will happen at any of the 4 Grand Slams next year.
For the second year in a row, Victoria Azarenka has shown that she is worthy to be called a rival of Serena Williams. I am not minded to call her that having regard to their head to head, but Azarenka makes a very good case as to why she should be called a rival to the woman who now occupies the WTA Penthouse. She has shown that she has the game and the mentality to stay with Serena come what may.
Here are Spin’s and Ace’s Parting Shots. As with most of the Majors, the Spin will focus on the women and in no particular order of their importance.
- How great is the WTA product looking these days? With so many young women coming up from the juniors and so many of them making their names in the Majors this year, I think the WTA is putting itself in a position where it could very well be that they will again draw even bigger ratings than the men.
- Caroline Wozniacki. It was just a few short years ago that she ruled the WTA. I have no idea what has happened but it is remarkably frustrating to see her not even make the second week of a Major. Believe this was her last chance to make a Slam semifinal as she was given a kind draw.
- Welcome to prime time Camila Giorgi.
- What has happened to Julia Georges?
- Sabine Lisicki is becoming the next Tsevtana Pironkova and that is not a title that a player with the game of Lisicki should ever aspire to become.
- The non-retirement of Marion Bartoli. Why not just take a break and savour the moment of fulfilling your life’s work?
- I don’t know if I missed it but it was great to listen to the commentary on a women’s match and not ever hearing anything about the shrieks, grunts, howls etc. The commentary was about the 2 women on the court giving their hearts and soul in order to capture a Major title. I am happy.
- Venus Williams is a Legend. She may not have the career of her little sister, but what she brings to women’s tennis cannot be measured in terms of titles or monetary value. When you become a role model and mentor to young women without having to try very hard, then you know that you have come a long way baby.
- Victoria Duval is an amazing young woman, poised, articulate and so focused. Lots of work needed on her game but taking out the 2011 USO champion, no matter how poorly Samantha Stosur played, says a lot about her mentality. The fact that she aspires to become something other than a tennis player is remarkable as well.
- Sloane Stephens. She played the first 4 games of her match against Serena like the Sloane that we all know can become the next big thing in tennis. She says that her aim is to finish the year in the top 10. It seems that Sloane is more about rankings watch than she is about standing on the podium receiving the top prizes. Baby steps are required, but I would have preferred if she spoke about results, rather than the ranking. If the results are there the ranking will come.
- Flavia Pennetta is not my favourite player but how awesome was it to see her playing again and doing so well. Losing in the semifinals to the second best hard court player this year is nothing to sniff at.
- Simona Halep. I think she was very disappointed with her results at the USO. Perhaps no New Haven and she could make a run for it next year.
- Petra Kvitova :(
- Andrea Hlavackova – She won the doubles title with her partner and fellow Fed Cup Czech mate Lucie Hradecka defeating Serena and Venus along the way. Also, she won the mixed doubles with Max Mirnyi, who won his first two with Serena and Vika. First player to win both in a Slam since Cara Black in 2008 (doubles with Liezel Huber)
- Daniela Hantuchova – She made the quarter-finals which is a good accomplishment after losing in the first round for five straight Slams even though her draw was not difficult.
- Victoria Azarenka – Despite losing again in the final to Serena, she did well by making the final despite not playing her best tennis.
- Alison Riske – She received a wild card and made the organizers proud by making the fourth round defeating Petra Kvitova in the process.
- Until the final, the match of the tournament was between Carla Suarez Navarro and Angelique Kerber where a third set tiebreaker determined the winner and the raw emotion of Suarez Navarro after winning.
The WTA Tour now moves to Asia and already we have seen some surprising results. Spin had a chance to watch a few matches from Korea as well as China. I watched the semifinal match between Zhang and Meusberger. It was my first time watching Zhang, a WC recipient play and I was very impressed. I am thinking from the little that I have seen, plus the fact that her opponent, Vania King, a qualifier had to go 3 sets to take out Jheng Jie in her semifinal, will have Zhang winning her first WTA title from as many starts.
Ace's preview of the Japan Open is below
Since the United States Open has concluded, the tour has moved on to the continent of Asia. This week the tour lands in Tokyo, which is hosting a Premier 5 event for the last time as it will move to Wuhan in 2014. Serena Williams was scheduled to play but withdrew due to fatigue. Also, Maria Sharapova, Sabine Lisicki, Nadia Petrova, 2012 champion, and Maria Kirilenko has withdrawn due to injury. Top seed is the reigning two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka, who has defeated S Williams twice on hard courts in Doha and Cincinnati. Azarenka will be the favourite to win.
First quarter - Azarenka leads this quarter but her first opponent could be Venus Williams. Sloane Stephens will be trying to improve her record in WTA tour events in a push to finish 2013 in the Top 10 while Jelena Jankovic will be continuing her good play.
First round matchups to watch: Eugenie Bouchard vs Monica Puig
Second quarter - Sara Errani leads this quarter but admitted that the pressure of being a top seed got to her during the US Open. Petra Kvitova has the ability to win this title but she can be very inconsistent and will her love for Radek Stepanek, who won the US Open doubles with Leander Paes, linger on every match she plays.
First round matchup to watch: Julia Goerges vs Sorana Cirstea
Third quarter - Caroline Wozniacki leads this quarter and has won this title in 2010. She has a tough first round match playing the winner of Daniela Hantuchova/Flavia Pennetta. When the media thinks that Roberta Vinci will falter early in draws, she finds a way to make quarterfinals or semifinals.
First round matchup to watch: Daniela Hantuchova vs Flavia Pennetta
Fourth quarter - Agnieszka Radwanska leads this quarter. If A Radwanska, who won this title in 2011, is playing in Seoul on Sunday, she will have only one day to travel as her first match will be on Tuesday and the further she advances, she may feel the effects.
First round matchup to watch: Aleksandra Wozniak vs Francesca Schiavone
Ace's Tokyo Predictions
Q1: Azarenka vs Stephens
Q2: Cirstea vs Kvitova
Q3: Vinci vs Pennetta
Q4: Ivanovic vs A Radwanska
S1: Azarenka vs Kvitova
S2: Pennetta vs A Radwanska
F: Azarenka vs A Radwanska