Wow. I didn’t see this one coming. Li Na has certainly been playing well going into her 2013 US Open showdown with former world #1 Jelena Jankovic. However, JJ had also been playing well. In fact, it was the best I’d seen Jelena play in over a year or so. I could envision either lady winning, but a 6-3 6-0 drubbing by Li Na took me by surprise. So much for Jelena having won their previous three matches. It was an overpowering performance by Li Na. I was especially impressed with Li’s willingness to move forward on points. She was still dominating from the baseline, but she took her chances moving into the court when she had opportunities. The question is can she continue to play at this high a level. If she can, she is a real threat to challenge for the title in Flushing Meadow.
The match that tennis fans were abuzz about was the grudge match between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. Sloane has played her best in the Majors, but it was Serena who emerged victorious 6-4 6-1. To me, it was a contrast of where Sloane is now and where she could go. What I mean by that is that Sloane was able to crack the ball with power similar to Serena. There were some great rallies and great shots. But where some don’t give Serena enough credit is her technical prowess and court awareness. Serena knows when to get the ball back in play to keep the rally alive and when to go for winners. Sloane at times can go for winners when it’s not advantageous. Serena has a great feel for when to come forward, step into the court or go to net. Sloane spent too much time too far behind the baseline, not taking opportunities to move forward on short balls. Lastly, Serena’s footwork is impeccable. Sloane had a few errors that could be attributed to shaky footwork. Don’t get me wrong, Sloane has tons of game. That is evident. What I am saying is that there is a level that Stephens could reach if she patches a few weaknesses in her game. If she does so, Sloane has the ability to rule the game. But for now, the queen of tennis is still Serena Williams.
Serena Williams (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (15) 6-4, 6-1 final
Agnieszka Radwanska (3) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (24) 4-6, 4-6 final
Na Li (5) vs. Jelena Jankovic (9) 6-3, 6-0 final
Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (18) 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3-7) final
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CARLA SUAREZ NAVARRO