Saturday, January 28, 2017

AO Day 13: The Women's Final

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

It started with Venus serving and ended with Serena raising a single finger aloft, an indication of her ‘new’ ranking. Serena Williams, the greatest tennis player of all time, crowned by her sister.

If you look at the top five most dominant athletes of all time and you don’t put Serena in there you’re a moron. More dominant than Michael Phelps, a better player than even Roger Federer. She has dominated the tour for 19 years. Sure, Margaret Court still holds on by one, but she won 12 Australian Open titles.

Steffi Graf will almost certainly have sent out congratulations by now.

The commentators said at the start that Venus could not afford cheap errors, but Serena could. They repeated it until Hana Mandlikova, champion in 1980 and 1987, came on to give out the trophies. This was not a classic. It was messy with a few diamonds in the rough. Venus appeared to be clinging on for parts of this match. She didn’t take advantage of a first set Serena wobble. She did not break back when her opponent served for the match, though she could have.

No, this match was scrappy, and awkward. Neither sister ever really got in the zone and not at the same time. Venus knew the crowd was on her side and did not use that. The Melbourne faithful tried, they really did. They were vocal when Venus won an epic rally, the rally of the match, at 15-all in the last game. They screamed and hollered when she held at 3-5.

For the tennis aficionado this was a match you could enjoy, as heavily weighted with history as it was. But the average viewer would have expected better from these two. This is going to be the big question over the next few years. How does tennis remain fresh and vibrant? Two veterans with a combined age of over 70 will not do it despite the sparkling rallies. Casual watchers want drama. Wasn’t a Kyrgios-type player to be in these finals? It’s not fair. And it isn’t realistic, but tennis has to move with the times.

It feels like such a harsh question to ask at a time like this, but it has to be asked. Who on the WTA Tour is actually going to stand up? Because the Williamses are a double-edged sword. They look great and having them still playing is wonderful, but isn’t it time for fresh blood? Lots of people I’ve spoken to, especially the ones outside of America, are sick of Serena. It’s boring and predictable.

Take the Mirjana Lucic-Baroni semi-final. Who actually enjoyed that apart from Serena? At the 2012 Australian Open, Maria Sharapova beat Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6 6-4. This BACSPINNER still remembers it because it was an instant classic. And the Azarenka/Clijsters matchup in the other was also spectacular. And we need more of that. The Venus/Vandeweghe match was good, but did either of them have a chance against Serena?

It isn’t just the WTA. The ATP has to decide what it is going to do after Roger and Rafa retire. Djokovic and Murray lack charisma. Murray lacks any kind of personality at all unless you include the one modeled after one of the seven dwarfs, Grumpy. People will love Kyrgios and Dimitrov. Well, certain aspects of the former. They already do. That might be the way to go.

So this slam, which has been brilliant and one of the better ones of late, gives us a lot of questions to think about. Both top seeds choked and lost quite badly. Muguruza and Pliskova imploded. Well done to Serena on another slam title. But this BACKSPINNER is worried. Because he can’t see where we go when these two retire.

He also hopes this was not an omen for tomorrow’s final. Nadal could simply sweep Federer aside. Let us hope that one lives up to the billing. This one sadly did not. But then we weren’t surprised.

Oh, boy, the Williamses. What athletes, what competitors.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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