September 11, 2011 | 10:23 PM
First, quickly, what about the MEN tomorrow?
Seems like all factors balance each other out in this heavyweight match-up, leaving Joker a modest favorite (current ODDS: 6:4 against Rafa).
Everyone knows there's a lot at stake, though it is not Joker's #1 ranking. His 2500 point lead over Rafa can only grow from the outcome (since Rafa beat him in the final last year, Rafa winning does not add points for him and Joker losing subtract points from his lead; Joker would add 800 points to his cushion with a victory, assuring him of the #1 year-end ranking of which he is almost assured regardless).
What kind of match can we expect?
- one longer and more rugged than Wimbledon
- more ball bouncing than a post season NBA game with the old Pistons
- little smiling, lots of scowling, and more grunting than a hog wrestling contest in Iowa
- one with lots of long points, loooong games, and long sets
- a bi-partisan crowd of Nadalistans and Serbomaniacs
- not enough drop shots, net rushes or aces
- a few Superhero shots for You Tubers
- did I mention it will be long?
NOW to Serena, Sam, the match and The New Ruckus
How bad was today's 6-2, 6-3 Serena bashing on Ashe?
- Serena won 24 fewer points in her loss than Coco Vandeweghe did against Stosur in the 2nd round
- Coco's loss to Sam took 27 minutes longer than Serena's
- Stosur won more points (67%) on Serena's 2nd serve than she did against 3 of her 6 other opponents
- Serena won just 30% of the points in Sam's service games
Serena was frustrated with her inability to read or return Stosur's kick serves into or away from her body and made to feel slow by Sam's all-out assault with forehands to the corners and nasty, deep slice backhands alternating with flat two handed drives. By the start of the 2nd set Serena was desperately seeking crowd support and adding noisy umph to her shots. On her way back to deuce in her first service game, her premature celebratory scream during the point resulted in a point penalty that cost her the point and the game. Frustrated to have her winner over-turned, Serena created a ruckus with the chair. Seated between games at the next changeover, Serena let the chair know she didn't want her even looking at her, let alone trying to explain or defend the ruling made (we couldn't follow the coverage of all her remarks with the chair, and Serena's vague and evasive answers during her post-match interview provided little verification of what she said or thought about the ruling - if you want to read the first few minutes of the transcript, see the bottom).
Stosur remained calm during and after The Ruckus, but her momentum was momentarily shaken as she watched Serena run off 12 of the next 14 points, threatening to go up 3-1. This is when Sam raised her own game to what might have been a higher level. When Serena lost the upper hand and saw Stosur go up, her balloon of energy popped and she pooped out quickly. Whatever fight the 3 time champion mustered, Sam one-upped it to become an improbable first-time champion, winning only her 3rd WTA singles title to go along with her 23 doubles titles and two doubles majors (she achieved a #1 doubles ranking in 2006). Even Serena acknowledged that Sam had "played great and deserved to win", and that the her own forfeited winner ("the winner I hit that didn't count") "would not have made a difference in the outcome."
A friend asked whether if Serena had played a typical (average) match for her, Stosur could have won?
YES is my answer. There are few women today, if any, who could have stopped Stosur today.
Question is, what got into the woman who'd been in one Slam singles final (losing to Schiavone in Paris in 2010)?
Perhaps it was that Sam had already been tested by top players in pressure matches, while Serena might as well have been giving clinics to the likes of #1 Wozniacki:
- in the 3rd round, Sam came out on top of a 3+ hour struggle with Petrova, winning 7-6, 6-7, 7-5
- in the 4th round, she lost the longest tie-breaker in women's Open history 17-15 in an 84 minute set
- in the semis, the day before, Sam won another 3 setter
Or perhaps it was just her day to seem free of pressure and looser than she's ever appeared. After all, on the 9/11 court against Serena, what did the 1 in 5 shot really have to lose? Serena may have been more aware of the occasion and felt the expectations to deliver for her fandom. She ran as if weighted down by more than a sore big toe (both men's finalists have bloody feet and hurting toes, but it hasn't slowed them down). In any event, until the post-match interviews, she couldn't run fast enough to escape the tree falling on her. Serena couldn't make any excuses for once, and not even the What went wrong today? line of questioning provoked her usual answer: that she wasn't very happy with the way she played and could play much better.
An Interview With: Serena Williams
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Q. Regardless of whether you thought it was right or wrong, the decision, do you think it's fair on the official to berate her like that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Excuse me? To berate?
Q. Do you think it's fair on the official?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think everyone is so intense out there. I was really intense, and everyone just wants to do great. I know I did. Um, yeah, just try my best, you know? It's like giving it 100%.
Q. What is your history with that chair umpire, and what episodes might you have had with her in the past?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. I just was out there trying to fight against a great player who played really, really well. I don't know.
Q. But between games, you referred to something that happened in the past with her. What were you referring to?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't think off the top of my head, actually.
Q. A match in Doha maybe where you were called for a similar penalty?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I promise you if I knew I would tell you, but I don't know off the top of my head.
Q. According to the ITF, a chair umpire has latitude in assessing a point or in replaying the point if the action was not deliberate. Did you deliberately hinder your opponent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughter.) No. I mean, I didn't, but I can't even -- you know, I think my opponent played really well. I actually thought it was a winner, but she did really good to even put her like racquet on it. I thought it was a clear winner. I thought it was the hat drop rule, where if you drop a hat you kind of replay the point. I don't know. I think for the most part it was just -- I don't know, I tried my best. As always, I gave my 100%.
Q. Do you regret at all what you said to the chair umpire?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just am really excited to be here really and to have gotten so far. To get here has been a really great experience for me. I regret losing, but I think there was nothing I could do today. I think Sam played really, really well.
Q. Why would you not regret saying things like...
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't even remember what I said. It was just so intense out there. It's the final for me, and I was just -- I have to go -- I guess I'll see it on YouTube. I don't know (Laughter.) I don't know. I was just in the zone. I think everyone, when they play, they kind of zone out kinda thing. I don't know, I'll see it later, I'm sure.
Q. You had a late finish last night, fairly quick turnaround, presser at 12:30 in the morning, you talked about maybe your toe bothering you. You came out sluggish, looked like you weren't moving well, your first serve was not clicking. Can you talk a little bit about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I definitely was a little more tired than I expected, but I'm not here to make excuses. I really want to put it out there and gave all the credit to Sam today, because I think she played really well. But it was a little bit of a tough turnaround, but I don't think it would have made a difference today. I just probably should have been lighter on my toes and move in a little faster.
Q. Did you feel sluggish? What was wrong with the serve?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I guess my serve just wasn't working for me today. I don't know the stats of exactly what my first serve percentage was, but I don't think it was good.
Q. It was 35% in the first set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow. (Laughter.) That's not so good. But that's good news for me, because I know that that's something that I can improve on. Going into playing her again or playing anyone, I can look forward, Okay, Serena, get your first serve in.
Women's 2011 Open Finals; Men's Prev