It’s not Serena’s fault that Dinara Safin contracted stagefright. Or maybe it is. Looking across the net at destructive Sister Serena is not one of the great views. Nothing scenic about it. It’s like peering over the edge of a cliff and losing your balance.
It was the tennis version of falling into the Grand Canyon, and in this battle for the No. 1 ranking, No. 3 Dinara seemed No.333. I hate to say it because Dinara is such a good kid, and has worked extremely hard to climb so high. But on the first point, Serena’s booming forehand winner, the fire alarm rang, and the 6-0, 6-3 blaze was under way, lasting 59 minutes. It was perhaps the shortest final in minutes in Aussie history (the records aren’t clear). For Verdasco, Nadal and Federer, it was less than a set’s worth or so.
It can happen to the best. Two Hall of Famers put together the briefest final in games in Oz, Steffi Graf beating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-0, 6-2, in 1994.
Starting the tourney slowly (grading herself “D-minus” for a win), Little Sister began to light her fire in the quarters when Sveta Kuznetsova served for victory – three points away – at 7-5, 5-4, 15-30. ”Enough!” Serena awakened herself — and won the last six sets of her 10th major singles championship, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 (Koozy had a little stagefright herself), 6-3, 6-4, over Elena Dementieva (dangerous but not enough), and then Safina.
The yips? What else can you call three double faults in Safina’s opening service game?
Oooh, that serve. Reminiscent of Russian roulette. It must be fixed. The toss is unmanageably so high and suspenseful that she nearly killed a couple of curious seagulls.
Yes, the singles title went to Serena – along with the doubles alongside Big Sister Venus – so that Serena became the first to win both since Serena, 2003.
But from a local standpoint it was Jelena Dokic’s tournament. Out of the trash heap she came, an unlikely wild card making the quarters (barely losing to Safina) in a series of upsets.
Depressed, nearly driven loopy by her tyrannical father, Jelena had faded from the Top Ten, and from sight altogether, she made a stirring reappearance. She has good men in her corner now, the Brothers Bikic, respectively lover,Tin, and coach, Borna, and I know you wish her well. Not just in tennis, more so in a reclaimed life.
Another wish is that the Sisters Williams would help out their friend, new Capt. Mary Joe Fernandez by playing Federation Cup for the U.S. Beyond them the cupboard is bare.
As for the women’s game, it took a hit, and a Belgian writer was wishing, too – that the ex-Brussels Sprouts, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, would spring back from their retirements. Doubtful. The ladies need a return of Maria Sharapova badly, and the Sisters playing more events.
Safina will perform, but the 15,000 customers got short-changed. Should she offer refunds from her million dollar payoff? That would be $ 66.66 per ticket holder
Won’t happen, of course, but to me $ 2 million for each singles champion seemed excessive, particularly today. In these harrowing financial times for millions across the globe, I believe ATP and WTA leaders should put an immediate freeze on prize money, backing up to 2008 standards.
It would be a good, caring example.
February 01 2009 01:00 am | Australian Open