Sooooo…is it too early to talk Grand Slam? Ok, I realize it’s a long season and lots of things can happen, but after her march to the 2015 Australian Open title, I don’t know who is out there to challenge Serena Williams. Give Maria Sharapova credit for hanging in there and pushing the second set to a tiebreak, but there truly was never the feeling that she was ever in control. In fact, I can make the argument that Madison Keys showed more of a ability to challenge Serena than Masha. Despite a ton of unforced errors in the second set of her semifinals match with Serena, Keys often pushed Serena around with her power in a way I haven’t seen anybody else do in a long time. The problem, as it relates to this year, is that Madison is still developing consistency and her all-around game. She’s probably a year away from really breaking out. That leaves players like Masha, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. Masha is 2-17 against Serena. Vika’s health status (in terms of injuries) is undependable. Petra has the game and talent to be #1, but it seems like I’ve been saying that forever. Simona Halep is a wildcard, but I didn’t like what I saw in her quarterfinal loss to Ekaterina Makarova. I love Halepeno, but she didn’t even try to fight in the second set. That kind of mentality cannot be accepted if she wants to reach #1. Despite Serena beating Sharapova, 6-3 7-6 (5), or for that matter past blowout wins over Sharapova, never can it be said that Masha didn’t fight until the last point. One other wildcard might be Caroline Wozniacki. Serena has won the “Serena Slam” before, all four Majors in a row but not in one calendar year. She can do it again, but this time in one calendar year. If she doesn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if the player to take her out in a Major is somebody you wouldn’t expect. For example, it wouldn’t surprise me if sombody like Coco Vandeweghe or Lucie Safarova or any number of players outside the top 5 or 6 took out Serena early in an event. Maybe Venus might do it. But after watching Serena beat Masha once again, I wonder if this might be an historic year. She’s already captured her 19th singles Major with only Steffi Graf’s 22 Open Era record ahead of her. The non-Open Era record belongs to Margaret Court at 24. Barring injury, I don’t put it past Serena to beat either of those marks. She is so good that a few years ago I stopped talking about Serena in the early rounds. My point of view was that the likelihood is that 80% or more of the events she enters she will probably win. So I can talk about her plenty (as I am doing now) at the end. And if she gets upset early, then I would talk about her then. Let’s see: 2014 US Open Champion, 2014 WTA Final Champion, 2015 Australian Open Champion. Seems like that strategy is working.
It was really nice to see Bethanie Mattek-Sands team up with Lucie Safarova for the women’s doubles title. 2014 was basically a season marred by injury, culminating in hip surgery. Seeing her have a terrific start to 2015 is wonderful. She opened the year with a doubles win at Sydney when she teamed with Sania Mirza. Now to capture her first Major title in women’s doubles, who knows what kind of year it might be. By the way, she did previously have a mixed double Major win at the 2012 Australian Open with Romania’s Horia Tecau. For Lucie Safarova, this is her first Major win of any kind. Although she has 5 WTA singles titles, she plays in the shadow somewhat of countrywoman Petra Kvitova. But don’t underestimate Lucie. She is highly skilled. I know Bethanie has played a lot of doubles with Sania Mirza over the past several years, but I would like to see the Bethanie/Lucie doubles team stay together for awhile to see what more they can accomplish. I think they have the potential to be #1.
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE
1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 6-3 7-6 (5) vs 2 Maria Sharapova)
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS/LUCIE SAFAROVA (won 6-4 7-6 (5) vs 14 Chan Yungchan/Zheng Jie)