The Reuters global sports blog
Serena survives scare as women’s tennis continues to enthral
Serena Williams just survived a real scare against China’s Li Na at the Sony Ericsson Open here at Key Biscayne, Miami. The world number one’s bid to reach her sixth title in this event hung in the balance during a second set tie-break after she had made a dreadful start losing the first set 6-4.
Serena won that tie break to two and then cruised through the third set for a hard-earned victory in intense Floridian heat but hers would not have been the first shock at this tournament.
In fact, in the women’s event, Serena is the only member of the top five in the world rankings who was capable of reaching the last eight.
Russian world number two Dinara Safina, Serb Jelena Jankovic and Russians Elena Dementieva and Vera Zvonareva all suffered surprise defeats along with the poster girl of the tournament, Serb Ana Ivanovic.
In the men’s event though all the top five are through to the quarter-final stage and this is becoming a familiar scenario – upsets galore on the WTA Tour and business as usual in the ATP.
It used to be the exact opposite with great volatility in the men’s rankings and predictable results between the women. So why has tennis gone full circle?
Is it because of the emergence of so many talented women players from countries not known in the past for tennis prowess (Russia, Serbia, China?) Or simply that the leading men of this generation, particularly Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are just on a different level from the chasing pack?
And as a fan, which do you prefer? An almost-guaranteed clash of the top players in the quarters with a Nadal-Federer final always likely? Or the more pot-luck mix that comes out of the women’s events?
PHOTO: Serena Williams returns a shot to Li Na during their quarterfinal match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria