Last week, world #1 Victoria Azarenka won her third straight event, and extended her unbeaten streak to 17-0 this year with a resounding 6-1, 6-2 victory over US Open Champion Sam Stosur. And it was a complete smackdown in Doha for Stosur, who may have come into the match thinking she had a chance. Azarenka sprained her ankle in Saturday’s semi-final versus Agnieszka Radwanska, whom she easily defeated 6-1, 6-1. Azarenka’s mobility was a question mark coming in, but one that was pretty much set to rest when she broke Stosur in the 3rd game of the 1st set, and then rolled. Judging by the last 2 hardcourt majors, Stosur and Azarenka are the top hard courters in the world, and we thought Stosur, who caved to the usual pressures in Melbourne, had gotten her game back, and that considering Azarenka’s ankle issue, she might have been due for a victory in this matchup. Azarenka, 5-0 in the matchup head to head coming in, seemed like she might have been due to drop one, in a lot of respects.
Don’t get us wrong because we have always had a lot of respect for her, but Azarenka is opening our eyes in a way we were not quite expecting yet. She has progressed so far from this summer, and this year, has announced that her time is now. Good show. We just didn’t see her as being offensive minded enough last summer to win big yet, and thought that her composure was an issue in the big spot. While that seemed to be the case even in Melbourne against Clijsters, she pulled herself out of it, and is currently unbeatable. Her offense has been fantastic. She was hitting frozen ropes off her forehand all last week, decidely her weaker wing. Also, she is not making errors on the forehand, and her winners have been finely placed. This kid is exploding with confidence. She is going for lines and coming that close, without missing.
She dismantled Stosur, who on paper, had a pretty good chance, if she could line up her own big forehand, running around the backhand, as she likes to do. Azarenka did not let her control points with her forehand. She exposed Stosur’s backhand enough to cruise, and perhaps more impressively, she went after Stosur’s forehand, and it produced errors. Azarenka’s pace off the ground was staggering.
On a bad ankle, Azarenka did not face one break point while breaking Stosur’s serve 5 times. Stosur’s strengths, her first serve and her forehand, were ravaged today by Azarenka. Azarenka won 50% of the points on Stosur’s first serve, and quite frankly, she made Stosur, a well conditioned player who has some weapons, look old. We’re gonna call it the brilliance of Azarenka. Electric ground strokes. You could see Stosur, so anxious to step around her backhand, and when she had the chance, Azarenka’s pace was too much for Stosur to handle, even on her vaunted forehand wing.
Last week was a command performance by Victoria Azarenka, who is now hanging bagels on people like Novak Djokovic. After her bye, she dispatched a very hot Mona Barthel 6-1, 6-0, then had an easy time of it with Simona Halep (6-3, 6-1), and then beat up on Yanina Wickmayer, a player with weapons, 6-4, 6-0. After the easy win over Stosur in Doha, Azarenka decided to withdraw from Dubai this week, where a weak field produced these dubious semi-finalists: Caroline Wozniacki, Julia Goerges, Jelena Jankovic, and Agniezska Radwanska.
Funny how Azarenka had been so effusive in her praise of Wozniacki for taking the pressure off of her, crediting that as a factor in why she has ascended to the top spot. Wozniacki, the fair haired lass, could not have taken kindly to the um, backhanded compliment. But she has probably been too busy making Rolex commercials lately to do much about it on the court. Why would Rolex even want her, we have to muse? She is not a winner, after all, but the watchmaker may be more interested in signing good aryans as opposed to good tennis players. Wozniacki did little to reach the semis this week with victories over Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic, before Goerges sent her packing today by playing the “german aggressive style” that Corina Morariu was so impressed by. We think that’s just a bit of code for non puke tennis, which is obviously being played by more than just the Germans. But even puke tennis, played with a little touch, ala Radwanska in Sydney, will give Wozniacki fits. And if she can’t take big hitters and also fails at mirror image tennis, her current game is failing her miserably. To break Goerges 5 times and still lose is the height of um, small time.
Wozniacki has now lost to Radwanska, Clijsters, Safarova, and Goerges this year, has won no tournaments, and has only 7 match wins. The losses, while one can not be faulted for losing to Clijsters, have otherwise come against less than stellar competiton. Only Radwanska resides in the top ten. The Clijsters loss at Melbourne in the round of 16 means that Wozniacki did not defend her semi-finalist points from Melbourne from last year. Today’s 7-6 (3), 7-5 loss to Goerges means that Wozniacki does not defend her points from Dubai last year, which she won. In short, the Dutch Miss may slide out of the top 5 on Monday, as Stosur and Radwanska, who will compete in the final at Dubai, are poised to climb.
From first to 7th in less than a month is a precipitous drop indeed. While we may have been too hard on Rolex earlier, they have made a serious mistake by backing an unproven player. All the other players at one time or currently in the Rolex stable (Federer, Roddick, Del Potro, Li, Ivanovic) were major champions worthy of wearing that brand. If Rolex is gonna speculate, they must feel it’s best to do so on a vapid blonde, or so it seems.