Player Reviews For The AO 2010: The Top Ten Women
Unlike the men, whose top ten changes only slightly week in and week out, the women seem to switch ranking places as often as they do rackets. The Australian Open was no different, with two surprise semi finalists and a top ten that looks different to it did a fortnight ago. Let’s have a look at how they performed.
1. Serena Williams: Nobody can accuse Serena of underachieving at Slams. Since the retirement of Justine Henin, Serena has dominated in Slams. Now, as if to prove it wasn’t a fluke, she beat Henin in the final of Henin’s first Slam back. Serena was pushed by Henin and Azarenka, but she proved time and time again why she is so hard to beat at Slams. Much like Federer, Serena has a whole different level at Slams and she literally never gives up. Despite being down a set and 4-0 against Azarenka, Serena came back to win the match. After dropping the second set to Henin, Serena again turned up the heat to take the title. Her ability to win often is because she keeps playing her best tennis throughout the entire match. That is something her opponents can barely ever do.
2. Dinara Safina: Safina needed to win this Slam more than anyone in the WTA or ATP. This year there was no heartbreaking final, no media headlines, and no criticism. This is because Safina retired just nine games into her match against Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round. Safina still hasn’t recovered from the back injury that cut her 2009 season short. Let’s hope it isn’t anything serious that could cut her entire career short.
5/10 (she was dominant in her earlier rounds)
3. Caroline Wozniacki: After a brilliant run at the US Open, Caroline entered the Australian Open as one of the favourites to lift the trophy. unfortunately, Caroline fell a little flat in her fourth round match against Li Na. She was never really in the match, made too many unforced errors for her counterpunching game, and struggled to hold serve. She looked to be in form against lesser opponents, but the sixteenth seed who was having the Slam of her career was too much for her.
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Kuznetsova proved she wasn’t a one Slam wonder at the French Open last year, taking advantage of the lack of dominance in the women’s game to take her second Slam. Svetlana has failed to follow it up since with any remarkable performances. The Australian Open 2010 was no different as she fell in the fourth round to her good friend and compatriot, Nadia Petrova. She didn’t play her best against an inspired opponent, and despite grabbing the second set, Kuznetsova could not get any kind of hold on the match. She never looked like winning.
5. Venus Williams: The Australian Open was a chance for Venus to prove that in the latter part of her career she isn’t just a grass court specialist. Venus didn’t completely blow the opportunity, going as far as the quarter finals. Had she lost to an opponent who was simply better on the day, Venus’s performance could be considered a great effort. However, Venus blew a host of opportunities that cost her the match against Li Na, eventually losing 6-2 6-7 5-7. With experience like Venus has, she should have taken the match and made an impressive run to the semis. Instead, her run was decent but nothing special.
6. Victoria Azarenka: Azarenka has the ground strokes to hang with anyone, the determination to win matches, and a grunt to rival Sharapova’s. What Vika doesn’t have is a decent serve and the ability to keep her cool when in a tough spot. Azarenka played a brilliant set and a half against Serena Williams in her quarter-final match. She led by a set and 4-0 before Serena decided to come storming back. It isn’t that Vika lost the match that is disappointing, it is how she went away in the third set. As soon as Serena got the second set, everyone knew she was going to win the match. The lost opportunity clearly played on Vika’s mind as she started hitting more and more unforced errors, losing the third 6-2. The talent she displayed in the first two sets was unbelievable, but fighting spirit and mental ability certainly wasn’t. Her entire tournament was brilliant, bar that one set.
7. Elena Dementieva: Elena was dealt the toughest draw of everyone: Justine Henin in the second round. It is hard to judge her tournament on one match, but that’s the way the cookie crumbled. What is unfortunate for Elena is that she was on the losing end of one of the best women’s matches of the tournament… again, (think Wimbledon 2009). Elena missed many opportunities to beat Henin, and lost the match 5-7 6-7. Her groundstrokes were there, her serve was ok, and her movement was excellent as usual. When it comes to mental strength though, Elena continues to fall short.
8. Jelena Jankovic: I didn’t even watch her play. Jankovic crashed out of the Australian Open in the third round to Bonderenko with hardly a whimper. Thoroughly beaten 2-6 3-6, Jankovic again disappointed at a Slam. I can’t comment on her performance as I didn’t see it, but I can say that the result is awful. Post tournament, Jankovic has complained of injury and stated she may be out for Fed Cup. Naturally, nobody is surprised.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska: Radwanska is another player I didn’t manage to catch and it is hard to judge much from her results this year. Radwanska lost in the third round rather easily to Schiavone, a player who is always dangerous but had a much lower seeding of seventeen. From what I can tell the scoreline of 2-6 2-6 is far too lopsided for a player who is trying to cement herself in the top ten.
10. Na Li: Na Li was one half of the Chinese sensation that rocked the Australian Open this year. Not content to fall to player seeded far higher than her seeding of sixteen, Li fought her way to the semi finals with strong, aggressive tennis and a mental strength not often seen in women’s tennis. She blasted her way past Caroline Wozniacki and came from behind to beat Venus Williams before falling to Serena in the semis. Don’t think she let the occasion get to her though, she lost to Serena in two tiebreaks. Not at all a scoreline to be ashamed of and overall a fantastic tournament. Let’s hope she can keep this up, with tennis like that, Li belongs in the top ten.