Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 14: Serena's offensive is too much for Jankovic

Woman's final, New York.

In a match that was not lacking in theatrics, before an electric New York crowd, Serena Williams regained her # 1 ranking, defeating Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 under the lights at Arthur Ashe tennis stadium.

Unfortunately for the viewing public, Jelena Jankovic, holding 40-0 lead while serving for the second set, was unable to convert the opportunity. This would have extended the match long into the night, and it would have been fitting, for both girls clearly relished the chance to shine under a very brilliant spotlight. Jankovic's missed opportunity clearly brings to light the most deficient part of her game: Her serve. In this humble journalists opinion, if Jelena spent more time working on her serve, and less time working on her smile, she might have a shot at grabbing that #1 ranking back.

Make no mistake: Serena was playing some very authoritative tennis. She was blasting her way past the sometimes giggling, sometimes doing the splits, sometimes pulling off impossible defensive shots Jankovic, and she was covering the court, particularly the short balls, with remarkable fervor. She stroked nearly 3 times the winners that Jankovic did, and this is a testament to the power of Serena's game. How she has not been ranked #1 in so long tells only the story about her lack of commitment, for she is clearly, when playing at 100%, one of the toughest ladies players ever to play the game. Her 9 Grand-Slam titles make arguing this point a very useless proposition.

S0, it is over, and Serena has emerged the victor. Her win over Venus in the quarters was the final after all.

After the match, Serena celebrated emphatically, jumping high into the air and throwing her racquet as if she was a left winger for the 1980 US Olympic men's hockey team. Meanwhile Jelena still seemed to enjoy herself, as she hogged the microphone in the awards ceremony thanking everyone on her team, including her limo driver, and her #1 fan, her mom.

This was perhaps the most entertaining straight-set match that one could have hoped for. It featured some really long rallies and amazing baseline play. There were also several hotly contested points that left the crowd in a frenzy and both girls gasping for air. As Jankovic served for the 2nd set it felt like this might turn into one of the all-time great finals. But it wasn't meant to be. Serena was just too strong.