With Serena Williams looking unstoppable at the moment, what is the current state of the women's tennis tour? Who is next in line to claim a grand slam, or does it look like Serena is just getting comfortable in her throne?
The 2012 US Open threw up some fantastic
matches and incredible drama throughout, but it was Serena Williams who
ultimately collected her fourth US Open title with victory over Victoria
Azarenka in the final.
Serena came into this event on the back of
an immensely successful summer. Having picked up the title at Wimbledon
in July and an Olympic gold medal at the same venue in August, Serena was a
clear tennis betting favourite with the bookmakers and it was difficult to pick out another
player in the draw with the ability to stop her.
The only niggling worry at the back of
everyone’s mind was a first round defeat at the French Open and a final defeat
here in 2011 when she had been the overwhelming favourite to defeat Sam Stosur.
If Serena did find herself in a pressure situation, would she be able to block
out those experiences and find a way to win the match?
We got our answer in the final. Having
romped to the first set against Azarenka. It looked like the powerful American
would be collecting the trophy in a little under an hour. However, as she did
so often throughout the event, Azarenka threw everything she had into the
second set and an equally impressive display from the Belarusian ensured things
were evened up at 1-1.
With Azarenka full of confidence and having
not lost a deciding set across the whole of 2012, it wasn’t a huge surprise to
see her 5-3 up and serving for the Championship. Would Serena be able to make
one last push and keep the demons from taking over? You bet she would!
Azarenka was broken to love and in what
seemed like a matter of moments Serena had wrapped up a 7-5 deciding set
victory and was collecting the US Open trophy for the fourth time.
Azarenka was superb throughout these
championships and there are few who could really argue with her status as world
No. 1 at the moment. The Belarusian had things all her own way in the opening
rounds but when she came across defending champion, Sam Stosur in the quarters,
we all expected her to be given a far sterner test. The match was probably the
best of the fortnight. Azarenka took the first set 6-1 but a highly competitive
Stosur came back to level and take the match into a deciding set. Locked at
6-6, the match was settled by a tense tie-breaker, which saw Azarenka sneaking
through by the slimmest of margins.
In the semis, she came up against Maria
Sharapova and again had to come back from a set down to book herself a place in
what would be her second Grand Slam final of the year.
Big things lie ahead for Azarenka. Unlike
some of the previous women to occupy the world no.1 spot, Azarenka is fully
worthy of her place and has won a Slam. She came within a few points of
defeating Serena in New York
and her confidence will only be boosted by how well she played throughout. I’d
expect to see her put in a sound defence of her Australian Open title in
January and if we’re very lucky, we may get to see both Azarenka and Williams
battling it out in the title decider once again.
One of the most lasting memories of the
2012 Women’s US Open will be the emergence of the young British star, Laura
Robson and the retirement of the legend that is Kim Clijsters. That both of
these came about in the same match was a little reminiscent of the day a
little-known youngster named Roger Federer defeated Pistol Pete Sampras at Wimbledon.
Whilst Kim Clijsters would not have
expected to go out of this event so early, neither could she really have
expected to win it. So an epic encounter with an up-and-coming youngster in
front of a packed house was probably a very satisfying way for her singles
career to come to an end.
For Laura Robson there are surely bigger
things to come. Robson combined with Andy Murray to win an Olympic silver medal
over the summer but she showed her huge potential in singles with victories
over two former Grand Slam champions in the shape of Clijsters and Li Na before
giving defending Champion, Sam Stosur a real run for her money in the fourth