Has Serena’s week of work out here at Stanford been more a sign of her sterling dominance or has it been yet another testament to the weak state of the women’s game?  While we were happy with last night’s result–a complete dismantling of world #5 Maria Sharapova–we thought it displayed more of the latter.  Aside from the 2 matches she has lost in majors, Masha has been the most dominant woman on the tour since May, and ran into the hotter hand and bigger hitter in a Roland Garros semi and a Wimbledon final, losing to eventual champions in both.

We think Maria ran into another eventual champion here yesterday.  If anyone was about to consider last night’s match a fluke, or to consider giving credence to Maria’s weak ass excuses–she couldn’t get into the match, she was tight, etc.– then what’s left to say tonight, after we have just seen Serena destroy the game’s other hottest player, Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki, taking 10 of the first 11 games out of the gate and wrapping up the first set in 24 minutes?

Lisicki has shot up the rankings to world #26 by winning Birmingham and making her 1st major semi-final at Wimbledon, but this is a girl who was around #160 in the spring when America faced off against and got their asses handed to them by Germany in Fed Cup, who was playing challengers all spring and who had to go through the qualifying rounds at Roland Garros.  These are further indictments on the women’s game, how a hot and able lady can get on a roll and go from the brink of obscurity to being squarely in the mix in the blink of an eye.  Good news for Serena, who is currently world #159 by the hand of the computer, but could anyone argue that she is not really the best player in the world right now?

Serena takes it 6-1, 6-2 in 59 minutes.  She won 69% of the points on serve and 54% of the points in her return game, allowing Lisicki to win only 4 of 17 points on second serve and only 34 of 91 total points.  Serena was not broken in the match, and has lost only 12 games in 3 easy straight sets wins here in which Patrick McEnroe has described her play as “nothing short of phenomenal.”

Tomorrow Serena gets another look at Marion Bartoli who defeated her at Wimbledon in her first action at a major since her return.  Serena is 2-1 lifetime versus Bartoli, and we’d be loathe to think Bartoli had a chance in that round of 16 if not for how little Serena had played in a year.  Though we hate the Plexicushion surface and how California as a state has favored a ticky tack surface that doesn’t favor the American style, we see pretty fast conditions here, and even faster ones tomorrow in the sun.  We don’t like how that bodes for Bartoli and her cumbersome two handed strokes on both sides and her awful, truncated service motion, which is completely devoid of fluidity.

We’ll pop the odds up for you tomorrow, but look for Serena in another walk.  By the way, Serena will move into the top 100 with tonight’s victory, and since she has no points to defend until next year at Birmingham, we’d expect that she will rise dramatically in the coming weeks, even with pedestrian showings in Toronto and Cincinnati, where she will probably do very well.

Of course Serena really shouldn’t have to worry about seedings going into The Open, but then again, the blasted USTA, unlike Wimbledon, does go by the WTA rankings.  We’re sure Mary Joe Fernandez will be watching with baited breath, as no one can be happier than our Fed Cup Captain, who has yet to wow us in any respect, and who will no doubt beg, borrow, and steal to get Serena for the next round of Fed Cup.

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