Saturday, January 31, 2009

DAY 13, WOMEN'S FINAL: DEMOLITION GIRL

Destruction would be an understatement. Utter domination is putting it mildly. No, this was something more than that.


Serena aka fashionista Williams has won her fourth Australian Open in hyper convincing fashion, 6-0, 6-3, over Dinara aka big guns Safina. It took just 59 minutes, but it probably seemed like an eternity for poor Dinara, who entered the match hoping for her first ever grand-slam title. Those hopes, however, were pretty much dashed by the time the 22 minute first set had mercifully come to an end.


Serena had that look on her face from the onset of the match, the look of a woman who was not going to be denied. We've all seen this look before from Serena, and usually, it means frightfully bad news for her opponents. Tonight, in front of a packed house at Rod Laver Arena, was to be no exception. The mighty Williams was questing for her 10th Grand-slam title, and it was immediately apparent (painfully apparent for a beleagured Safina) that she had learned a thing or two about high stakes tennis while winning those first nine. As Safina started the match apprehensively, Williams was on fire from the very first point, and the all-out assault never let up, even when the match was firmly in her control.

Serena was serving with gusto, and hitting screaming winners from all over the court. Alternatively, when Safina wasn't double faulting, which she did three times in her first service game, Serena dug in and let fly on her second serve, attacking maliciously while a dumbstruck Safina could do little more than flail away at Serena's returns as they whizzed past her. Serena finished the set 3 for 3 on break point opportunities and 9 for 9 on her first service points. She lost 8 points in the whole set. Outrageous.


As the second set began Safina tried to muster an attack. Knowing that she must fight fire with fire she finally joined the party and stole a few games with some wicked go-for-broke ground strokes. But even as she started to hit a few winners, she could not get her serve on track. Finally, in the 6th game of the 2nd set, she procured her first hold. It drew her to within striking distance, but it was clear by this juncture of the match that this was Serena's show.

After another hold in the 8th game, Serena blasted her way through her final service game and the trophy was hers. She finished the match with 23 winners and only 7 errors. As is often the case, Serena saved her best for last.

Miss Williams is now one of 5 women to have 10 or more grand-slam titles in the open era. The others are Steffi Graf, Martina Navritalova, Chris Evert, and Margaret Court. Pretty fine company indeed. Additionally, Serena is now tied for the most Australian Open Championships, and she has also grabbed the worlds # 1 ranking from Jelena Jankovic.

In the trophy ceremony after match, Safina showed herself to be a truly good sport. She remarked that she was nothing more than Serena's ball-boy for the evening. Meanwhile, an overjoyed Serena was giggly and exuberant as she thanked her mom and dad, and her sister Venus for hitting with her in the morning.

It may have been short, but as is typically the case with Serena in big pressure matches, it was equally sweet. Sweet and vicious, just the way Serena likes to do it.