Victoria Azarenka ended the 2012 China Open the way she ended a lot of tournaments at the beginning of the year, by kissing another winner’s trophy. Vika was too much for an error-prone Maria Sharapova, cementing her recent hard court dominance over Masha, 6-3 6-1. It’s hard to believe, considering the year Vika has had, that this is her first title since Indian Wells, but there was a period this year that the story…and the dominant play…was all Serena Williams. But Vika’s tremendous fight in falling in the US Open final showed me, at least, that she is not that far off from challenging Serena. If Vika could work on her serve and get a few more free points, it would make all the difference. She served for the match in the US Open final, but couldn’t hold serve. What turned Novak Djokovic’s career around, besides diet and work ethic, was improvement on his serve, which was night and day in 2010 and 2011. The serve is also what separates Serena from the rest of the greats. If Vika could emulate the improvement that Nole achieved, she could go from ranked #1, which she is, to being recognized as truly the best in the women’s game, which I’m sorry to say as her fan, she is not. Serena is. But that could change in 2013.
Speaking of Nole, Djokovic emerged as the champion on the men’s side at the 2012 China Open, defeating the dangerous Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-6 (4) 6-2. Although I just talked about Vika improving on serve, relatively speaking to Serena anyway, it wasn’t a big first serve that carried Nole over Tsonga. In fact, it was Jo-Wilfried that came out firing aces (9 to 1 advantage). However, Djokovic just ate up Tsonga’s second serve, winning 67% of points off of Tsonga’s second serve, while Jo-Wilfried could only manage to dent Nole’s second serve 37% of the time. The championship marks Djokovic’s third straight China Open title. He has also won 3 times at the Australian Open, Dubai, Miami and Canada. The bigger goal for Nole is to finish as the year end #1. There are still a few events before the year end #1 can be determined, but this is a good step in that direction by Nole.
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