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Friday, January 25, 2013

Azarenka ~ Li Na Finals : ushering in of Sloane Stephens


She has dominated the arena with her power game ~ Serena Williams was up a set and a break in her Australian Open quarterfinal against 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. Then, in a span of 25 minutes, she lost her serve, hurt her back while trying to avoid contact with the net, took her second injury timeout of the tournament, came away with a limp, could barely get her first serve over 90 mph, dropped her first set since the U.S. Open and went down 2-1 in the decider. Her Wilson tennis racket paid the price. In frustration, she smashed it on the ground, breaking it…. – does that mark the downslide of the one of the greatest career……… 

Serena Jameka Williams  has seen it all… has been the World No. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She is the only female player to have won over $40 million in prize money.  She has 30 Grand Slam titles: 15 in singles, 13 in women's doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles.  2013 has not been good as at  Australian Open, she lost in the QF in the Singles. She teamed with sister Venus in doubles. They lost in the quarterfinals to top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

The one who defeated her perhaps lot to bask in glory, the daunting task of beating Serena  - Sloane Stephens is much younger, born in 1993.  Her current rank is world no. 25.  Her mother Sybil Smith is a Swimmer and her father a professional American football player.  Her father John Stephens was killed in a car accident in Sept 2009,  just before the start of the US Open. She has Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams and Venus Williams as her inspirations in tennis.

Stephens won 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on the Rod Laver Arena in two hours and 17 minutes dishing out high quality tennis.  Her opponent Serena Williams, was hindered by a  back spasm, still Sloane’s game stood out.   Perhaps this win heralded arrival of a young talent that had been bubbling under for a while. Her campaign has ended as she was defeated by Victoria Azarenka, in a match mired by some controversy.  In the other half Chinese Li Na eased her way with an easy victory over No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka needed six match points to finish off a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Stephens – but the medical timeout became the most talking point.  "Well, I almost did the choke of the year," Azarenka is quoted as telling  an on-court interviewer immediately after the match. "At 5-3, having so many chances I couldn't close it out." Australian Open officials said the tournament doctor reported that Azarenka had left knee and rib injuries.  The 23-year-old Belarusian's on-court comments after the match led to speculation about the timing of her medical timeout. She didn't help herself in a second television interview after the match that suggested the pressure of trying to close out the match was getting to her. The gamely Stephens however,  didn't think the timing of the medical break affected the outcome of the match.

May be we get to see more of Sloane Stephens from now on…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Jan 2013.

1 comment:

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