Before we talk about yesterdays matches let's look at stats of the two finalists posted by Bobby Chintapalli
That's what makes yesterdays outcome inevitable. Emphasis mine.
“Entering the Cincinnati final, Williams is 29-2 on hard court so far this season, and Azarenka is 24-1.” This little tidbit is why I’m completely against the tennis habit of not counting withdrawals as losses, particularly when a player has already played a match in a tournament. When you read quote above, you’d think Azarenka has only lost one hard court match all year, right? You’d think she’d have won a bunch of titles, given the sheer number of wins. But no – she’s won only two (one of which is the Australian Open). That hardly equals to 24 wins and just one loss.
Now don't get me wrong. The third set of that match, Serena playing on fumes but still trying to figure out how to get a win, Azarenka, the much fresher of the two, hanging tough and countering Serena's every move with one of her own, was one of the best we've seen played on the WTA tour this year. Azarenka deserved the win and while coach Patrick Mouratoglou had already said Serena had a lot of matches on her Serena would never use that as an excuse.
Picture via Reuters
But you know what was the best part of the match for me? No on court coaching. Sam Sumyk, Azarenka's coach, was very close and would've come if summoned but he wasn't. Patrick was sitting a few rows up but he knew he wouldn't get the call. This is what tennis is supposed to be. Two people across the net from each other each one trying to out smart the other. No one flying out of the stands to talk to his or her seemingly disinterested charge while she towels off, checks her nails or sips at her water. Two sweaty, somewhat disheveled athletes who happen to be female, battling to win a prize that would be a first for both of them. It was a great match for a tennis fan. It was a great match for women's tennis. Too bad so many fans did not hang around to see it.
Picture via Reuters
The mens final was a bit different in tone and meaning. John Isner, who will be in the top twenty starting Monday August 19, is the only US player who seems to really, really care about how he plays. He's changed his game from one of just mindless ball bashing and added some subtlety, even some movement into his play. And yes, he shows some emotion.
The only thing that bothers me about Isner is his aversion to playing overseas because he's uncomfortable. He can't eat what he likes. And darn it they speak other languages. Even the British form of English isn't what he's used to. How many times did the comms say that he plays better in the States because he likes it here? How many times did they say he can eat what he likes here? I guess it's me. When someone is college educated I expect them to have a broader outlook, to want to see the world on its terms not on his or her narrow perspective.
I don't think I ever heard Andy Roddick say something so silly. Everyone prefers the food they grew up with but if you travel you know you are going to have to eat the way the natives of the country you're visiting eat. If this is the attitude of United States players we're going to be happy to be in the top 20 for a long time.
For Rafael Nadal can I say winning that match at a venue where he's never played well, on a surface that his detractors said he'd never play well on, can only be seen as a triumph? "They" wanted him to have surgery. He didn't. "They" said he wouldn't play Cincinnati because back to back hard court tournaments would not be good for him. "They" questioned whether he'd ever be at the top of the game again.
But even the commentators had to give him his due. They talked about how he adjusts to what the player across the net is doing. They talked about his patience. They had no choice. For Rafa fans this is nothing new. It's how the man plays. I don't know why comms based in the States always act surprised that Rafa can think. They do the same thing when it comes to Serena though don't they?
This selfie, courtesy of @Marion_Bartoli, perhaps gives a hint as to why Marion felt she was physically unable to continue to play tennis. But don't weep for the Maiden. She's got a gig commentating for Eurosport and will start next week covering the US Open. Life goes on.