Sunday, 14 August 2011

Rogers Cup: Well it wasn’t for want of trying

On the one hand, I can’t truly say I was especially invested in Vika winning this event. Notwithstanding that I root for her almost without fail in every match she plays, like Andy and Caro, I just can’t see the point of winning at this level anymore.


Williams d. Azarenka 63 63

When you’ve won Miami twice or, as in Andy’s case, six Masters titles, winning the same old Premier events simply allows talking heads to continue to bitch about your Slamless credibility.

That said, yesterdays match was, as it seems most everyone in my timeline agreed, just a little special.

My feeling was that Vika had a chance – Serena had played two three setters to reach here, Azarenka had only lost six games. If Zheng could get a set off Serena, why shouldn’t Vika get two?

BOTH WOMEN came out striking better than anyone had all week: Vika was playing as well as she’s capable of and yet Serena seemed to be (and I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice this) taking the ball that little bit earlier.

I’m not sure we can read much more into how the match played out except to say that there’s very few that can maintain the intensity that goes with playing your A-game for that period of time. And even fewer (if any) that can do it against Serena. Vika eventually cracked in the middle of set two – I’m only surprised (and rather proud) she lasted as long as she did.

Let the record, therefore, reflect no blemish, no want of effort from Victoria – she was simply outmatched by a legend. Sure, there were a few service glitches (47% 1st serves in set one), but that was the best I’ve seen Serena time the ball since her return.

No one, as we’ve heard many times since yesterday (and many times over the past decade), can stay with her at that level.

And yet this trivial, uncontroversial statement of fact continues to provoke the kind of hostility I thought we did away with in the pre-Twitter era.

”Unless the women's game loses its inferiority complex where @serenawilliams is concerned, she will win US Open #assimpleasthat

Harman’s a respected commentator – I mostly agree with him. But anyone that saw the match knows how grossly unfair that is. Vika continues to have holes in her game , she may be suffering from many things, but an inferiority complex ain’t one of them. And it certainly wasn’t the problem last night.

Nothing new of course – its the same argument that saw those unwilling (or unable) to give Fed his due when he was winning 3 Slams a year, citing “locker room impotence” in the face of “the aura”. Only, I’m pretty sure Harman wasn’t amongst them back then.

And that’s why this really rankles. Its not that *certain* players haven’t given Fed and/or Serena an easy ride over the years (they have). I don’t even dispute anyone’s right to make that claim even though I think it’s clear that it’s often little more than an ideological hoax – one I didn’t take very seriously then or now.

But it’s only fair to require those professing such a theory to play an even hand, not just against styles of play and/or personalities that don’t “please” you: it may not be his intent, but this simply smacks too much of those antiquated attacks on Serena (and Venus) stemming from an ideological dislike of their, and only their, dominance.

That’s, like, so 2003. 

(Pics: getty)

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