Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sorry Slams


That's how many games the four runners up could muster this year in women Grand Slam finals.

First there was Serena Williams' drubbing of Maria Sharapova. Then Ana Ivanovic's nerve-fest against Justine Henin at the French. Venus followed that up by humbling a bouncy Marion Bartoli on the grass before Henin capped off the year by destroying Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The future of women's tennis can find solice in the fact that it had seven marquee players in four finals, Henin being the only to make two appearances. The lack of quality play late in Slams has to worry insiders and fans alike. In fact, Bartoli's win over Henin at Wimbledon and Kuznetsova's defeat of Chakvetadze just this past week were the only two three-set semifinals out of eight this year. 2 of 8? That's not exciting tennis.

I don't want to take away from the brilliance of Serena's comeback at the Aussie, or the fact that Henin won both the French and the US Open without dropping a set, or the sheer dominance that Venus captured the All England Club with this year, but it's the lack of competitive women's tennis in the late stages of said tournaments that worries me.

Where's the classic Seles-Graf or Navratilova-Evert battles? No two women will stand out of this generation with the distinction that those past champion do; they do, however, have the chance to be known for competitive and inspiring tennis. To watch such white washes is discouraging, especially knowing that the talent in the women's game has only improved over the last decade.

Ten years ago a bright-eyed Martina Hingis defeated a beaded Venus Williams 6-0, 6-4 in the finals of the Open. Though that wasn't a particularly compelling match, Venus had just come out of a nail-biting semifinal win over Irina Spirlea. Including that final, absolutely NONE of the last eleven US Open women's finals have gone three sets. Last year's title bought between Henin and Maria Sharapova was one of the more closely fought matches.

Such Grand Slam finals as Wimbledon 2006 between Henin and Amelie Mauresmo or the '05 Championships featuring Venus and Lindsay Davenport certainly can't happen every time, but it would certainly be nice to watch some competitive tennis, especially when the biggest titles of the tour are on the line.

Perhaps the LOSER at the Australian Open next January could win 15 games in one match? Now I'd love to see that.

No comments: