A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
A New Generation of Women Tennis Players Coming
Over the first week, the favorites did what they were supposed to do, win and win impressively. Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Serena Williams along with Victoria Azarenka won in easy fashion as they set themselves for further drama in the second week.
For those who believe that real life Cinderella exists or that for brief moments, time can stand still; then the first two days provided those moments of hope spring eternal. Vicky Duvall faced off against former champion Sam Stosur in a dramatic three set in which her fore arm proved to be the magical wand. Stosur is a powerful player complete with hard driving serve but the 17 year old Duvall countered with her forearm which made up for her weak service game. While Stosur first serves went from 105 to 110 mph, Duvall was lucky to get her serve close to 95 mph and most of the time; those serves were closer 85 than 95 mph. What Duvall had was an excellent passing game and guts that allowed her to stay in the game against the more experience Stosur.
Every shot matter and as the match proceeded, it became obvious that every point became a matter of victory or defeat. Both players found themselves involved in long drawn out rallies that at first appeared to benefit Stosur, who was hoping that Duvall would wilt from pressure but in the end, it allowed Duvall to stay in the match. As the match progressed, Duvall realized that she could actually win and she took on a different persona from a young player happy to be at the US Open but instead, she went for broke and played to win. The scores reflected the closeness of the match as Stosur won the first set 7-5 but it was Duvall who took the final two sets by close margins of 6-4, 6-4. The magic carpet ride ended two days later as midnight struck and Duvall lost to Daniela Hantuchova but she showed potential of becoming an elite player.
Venus Williams has battled illness and back problems and at 33, it has appeared her best days were past her but on the opening day on center court; the old Venus showed up against Kirsten Flipkens. Over the first set, Williams took control as her services game crackled at the 115 to 120 mph range and those first serves hit their mark forcing Flipkins on her heel.
Flipkens have seen this script as she lost a similar set in a previous victory over Venus Williams before coming back to win. And after the first four games of the second set, it started to set up in similar fashion as Flipkens broke Williams service game once and going into the fifth game, she had the momentum. The fifth game went back and forth as Williams and Flipkens battled each other. In a tense and close match that had a feel that the winner of this particular game would go on to win. Williams managed to survive the game and took a 3 to 2 lead in the set and from there, she simply resorted to the form she experienced in the first set as she won the final three games of the set and the match. 6-1, 6-2 showed the old Williams was back and for 1 hour, Venus played like she was the Williams of 2001. Two days later, Venus nearly won a second match but a tough third set ended with Venus losing a tie break to Jie Zheng
Sloane Stephens showed against Mandy Minella why she is a bright light in American women tennis but at the same time showed her inexperience and inconsistency. She won a tight three set match and at times, it looked like she was ready to take control before making unforced error that allowed her opponent to stay in the match. Over the next two matches, Sloane Stephens rolled over her opponents winning against Urszula Radwanska 6-1, 6-1 and then crushing fellow American Jamie Hampton 6-1, 6-3 as she marches toward a possible match with Serena Williams. Of all of the new Americans on the rise, she may be the closet to winning a grand slam.
Madison Keys attempted her own version of a Cinderella story against Jelena Jankovic but unforturtately, Jankovic experience and touch allowed her to win a close two set victories. Keys had suffered from shoulder injuries throughout the summer and this showed up in the first set as it took time to loosen her shoulder. In the second set, Keys showed her future potential as she laced the court with rocket serves and powerful forearm shots but Jankovic matched her efforts and had more nuance shots that allowed her to triumph.
John Isner is another American who is forever on the verge but never quite making it over the top. Isner has a powerful serve and a tough forearm shot but his ability to break the other guy serve has always been lacking. He was often in five sets drag out battles in which he had to depend upon his services game to pull through. This summer, he started to put together his game as he won one tournament and was in the finals of two other. Against Flippo Volandri, he simply did what good Tennis Players are supposed to do, go out and dominate. He broke Volandri at least six times and he simply took control from opening service game and won an easy three set battle. He then faced French player Gael Monfils in a tense four set match but this match showed that Isner might just be ready for prime time and make a serious push into the second week.
One story not often reported is how many African-American women are now becoming the future of American Tennis as Stephens, Keys and Duvall are preparing for their run at greatness. When the Williams’ sister say good-bye to Tennis, the future of American women Tennis is in good hands. As for the men, Isner is mainstay but in the wings, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison and Denis Kudley are hoping that their day will arrive soon. As for Serena, she is not yet ready to give up the title as Americans best in Tennis. When asked about her own retirement plans, Venus made it clear she is not yet done and Serena showed on the court that she is still the main threat to win the US Open!