Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Serena Superior - as if there was a doubt!

Serena at Wimbledon this year
It is quite remarkable to consider how quickly Serena Williams has returned to the very top of women's tennis, even for her.  After a year off the circuit, two grass court tournaments away from home (one just outside of London a little bigger than the other) served her sufficiently for an all out assault once she jumped onto the hard courts back in the States.

It does not matter that this remarkable athlete was unseeded at Stanford, and required the sensible provisions of a protected ranking to enter the draw. (I think the organisers may have squeezed her in irrespective!).  The better player of the two outstanding tennis siblings thrives on meeting the top players early in a draw, as shown in 2007 when she dominated the Australian Open after returning from injury ranked 81 in the world.

Stanford 2011 was an absolute clinic as Serena established her credentials once again as the preeminent female tennis player on the planet when fit, and one of the top few sportswomen across the entire spectrum.  The victims included Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova, thrashed in the quarter final, Wimbledon semi finalist Sabine Lisicki for the loss of just 3 games in the semis, and Marion Bartoli in straight sets in the final (sweet revenge for having lost in the 4th round to the French player at Wimbledon)

With a ranking now back to 80, the Rogers Cup Premier 5 event in Toronto beckoned for Serena, and the form continued pretty much unabated.  The worry for the top ranked players in the world was that the US Open is near, and the younger Williams ranked 80 would be unseeded and therefore a potential first or second round opponent at Flushing Meadows.  Well Serena has torn that scenario to shreds in Canada.

Despite losing the first set to both Zheng Jie and Lucie Safarova in the third round and quarter final respectively, SW never lost her composure and had deep reserves of talent to draw on to ensure victories and a showdown in the semis against 4th seed Victoria Azarenka.  This, potentially her biggest test, was a walk in the park as she shot down the young Belarusian star in two awesome sets.

Samantha Stosur, who had found some long overdue form and confidence to reach the final, ran into a rampant Williams who proceeded to trample all over the Australian 6-4 6-2 and leap to 31 in the world, guaranteeing a seeding for the final Grand Slam tournament of 2011, with even more points to gain in Cincinnati before then.  This is of slight relief to the Wozniackis and Zvonarevas of the world, for they will not have to meet Williams until the third round at the earliest in New York.  Still that is too early.  With Serena in the form of the moment, there is not a single female holding a tennis racquet that can lay legitimate claims to favouritism in any match against the American.