After pretty much a year of Victoria Azarenka’s reign on the top of the rankings (it was interrupted by Maria Sharapova for four weeks in the summer of 2012), women’s tennis has a new No.1 – Serena Williams. Of course, not entirely new, Serena is on the top spot for the sixth time in her career and more than ten years after she first claimed it. As if she lacked historic accomplishments and awe-inspiring results, at the age of 31, Serena became the oldest female to become a No.1 since the computer rankings were introduced.
The move into the WTA penthouse happened after a grueling 3-6 6-3 7-5 three-setter against Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open. The seventh-seeded Kvitova took the first set without facing break points on her serve, but Serena won the second set by tripling her winners to unforced errors (12 to 4) and came back from 1-4 down in the third to finally close the match in her signature fashion, with an ace. After the victory, Serena was overflowing with emotions:
I’m so sensitive nowadays, I’m always crying! I never thought I would be here again. I’ve just been through so much and never thought I’d be here again.
Serena has now won 59 of her last 62 matches. It’s time-consuming to even type out all Serena’s just recent accomplishments: titles at Charleston, Madrid, Wimbledon, Stanford, Olympics, US Open and WTA Championships in 2012, and the momentum continued in the new season, with the Brisbane International title, the 47th in her career, which made her the most prolific active WTA player when it comes to the number of titles won. Serena will begin her 124th non-consecutive week as the No.1 player in the world on Monday.
In the other Qatar Total Open quarterfinal matches, Maria Sharapova brushed aside Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-4, and will next face the mighty Serena, the soon-to-not-be-No.1 Victoria Azarenka saw off Sara Errani 6-2 6-2 and will play Agnieszka Radwanska, the 6-2 7-5 winner over Caroline Wozniacki.
Will Radwanska finally stop the demoralizing losing streak against Azarenka, that dates back to the 2011 Indian Wells and that included five defeats in 2012? Serena is 10-2 against Sharapova and hasn’t lost to the Russian since 2004! (photo: © Neal Trousdale)
Looks like both Aga and Masha will have to face their demons tomorrow 🙂 Both can do this, but it’s going to be veeeery though.
Masha is probably in the best shape of her life, she’s destroying most of her opponents, but it won’t be easy for her to win against Serena. Mostly, because Masha’s game consist on hitting as hard as she can, hoping to “kill” her opponent. Problem? It does not phase Serena, as she can hit just as hard if not harder and she has actually a lot more in her arsenal. If Masha’s big strokes does not work, she’s helpless, ’cause she’s not able to adjust her game, while Serena can go to the net, can play drop shots and so on. And Serena moves better, not only side to side but also forward – something that Masha improved recently, but still is not her strong point. So, all in all it depends on both girls’ disposition – if Serena manages to stay healthy, she feels good tomorrow, I’ll go for her. Plus, she’s probably still riding the euphoria of becoming once again the no.1, which will provide a little more motivation/adrenaline…
As for Aga, as I wrote on the FB fanpage of the blog, I’m cheering for her, but I think that Vika has more chances. Both are in the best shape of their careers (tennis-, physically-, mentally-wise), but Vika has some advantage over Aga. She’s more offensive player, hitting a lot of winners, so losing less energy to win a point. Aga has to do a lot of running, be extremely consistent and hope for her opponent errors, which is not given with players like Vika. Yes, Aga moves great, better than Vika, whatever we talk to side to side or forward moving (though Vika improved in that area too, especially when it comes to moving forward, I was impressed with some situations in Doha, where she managed to get to the ball in time and had enough of control to place it well on the other side and win a point). Aga’s also more complete player technically speaking – she has a lot more shots in her arsenal (volleys, drop shots), while Vika – like Masha – is mostly a big hitter (and a big screamer, but that’s beside the point…). Aga can win, IF from the very begining she takes initiative, goes to the net, hit deep – close to the baseline (so Vika can’t go for her point ending shots), make Vika run by hitting a lot of angles and avoid the center of the court (again, so Vika does not take the intiative). But first of all, she needs a good mental attitude – to be sure that she CAN win. I hope that her great record this year will help her in that aspect 🙂
On a different note: seems like WTA ranking is now right on the spot: out of top 8 seeded players at Doha, 7 advanced to the 1/4 (only out of shape Kerber losing early) and the 8th player to complete the final 8 was a 10th seeded Caro. And the top4 advanced to the semis, so it couldn’t be more perfect. I’m only afraid that Aga will become Andy Murray’s woman equivalent – always so close, always part of the big 4, but never winning a major. My only consolation is that Andy finally won a GC tournament – and as much as I am not his fan and a big Nole’s fan, I was so cheering for him and then so happy for him, at the last year US Open 😉
Perfectly put, Maggie, perfectly put in all regards!
No one deserve the first rank like Serena… I mean she is the best!!! winning everything, doing great… no one can match her serves, her returns, her powerful ground strokes… Simply SHE IS THE BEST 🙂 proud of her, never mind of her age her injuries her health problems … she has the “will”