The Reuters global sports blog
“Embarrassing”, “pitiful” and “pathetic” were just some of the words used by the global press to describe last month’s Australian Open final between Serena Williams and Dinara Safina.
Some observers went even further and suggested women should give up their right to receive equal prize money after Williams walloped the Russian in just 59 minutes to claim her 10th grand slam crown.
The tennis police have extremely short memories. While everyone was quick to compare it to Rafael Nadal’s heart-stopping 4-1/2 hour epic win over Roger Federer in Melbourne, people have forgotten it was only eight months ago when the Swiss won a paltry four games in the French Open final against his Spanish nemesis.
In fact, on that occasion Federer won fewer games than Roland Garros runner-up Safina had a day earlier in the women’s showpiece match against Ana Ivanovic. Were people expecting Federer to hand back some of his prize money simply because he had failed to produce his A-game against Nadal? Of course not.
While there is no doubt that the Federer-Nadal thriller in Melbourne will live long in people’s memories, it should be noted that it was the first five-set men’s final in Melbourne for 21 years.
In that same time, the women’s finale in Australia has gone down to the wire six times — including the 2002 classic when Jennifer Capriati saved four match points before sneaking past Martina Hingis.
Also, the men’s game has effectively become a two-horse race over the past four years. In the 16 majors that have been contested since the 2005 French Open, either Nadal or Federer have claimed the top prize 15 times.
Over the same period, the women’s roll of honour lists champions such as Venus and Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo, Kim Clijsters and Ivanovic.
All four majors in 2008 were won by different women and the battle for supremacy became so intense that the top ranking changed hands six times until Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic won the final round of musical chairs to clinch the coveted year-end prize.
Proving that women’s tennis remains unpredictable, Serena has already snatched that top spot for herself this year.
As Jankovic said: “It’s irrelevant to compare men’s tennis and women’s tennis… which by the way is probably more enthralling.
“It’s a big battle between something like five players, so you never really know who is going to prevail, it’s very hard to guess who will be number one.”
The same cannot be said of men’s tennis.
PHOTO: Serena Williams poses with her trophy after winning the women’s singles final against Russia’s Dinara Safina at the Australian Open in Melbourne Jan. 31, 2009. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic
That’s Lance Armstrong’s Twitter feed on Feb 13, a few hours ago.
I bet if his mum doesn’t know where he is, the anti-doping authorities do.
Life’s not always easy for Rafael Nadal and other mega-rich tennis players, writes Theo Ruizenaar.
From the start of this year, those ranked in the top 50 must nominate one hour daily when they will be available for drug testing, as per World Anti-Doping Agency regulations.