First, congrats to my fave for her first tour win in far too long.
Now to the fun stuff.
First, this was far from 'vintage Venus' but I view that as a good thing. Venus herself has said that back in 2000, she won matches by 'hitting the ball as hard as I can, every shot'. This was very different.
She went to the one handed backhand a lot, and won a few points with it. Granted, Conchi was forcing this with great shotmaking of her own, but four years ago, Venus takes those two-handed and tries to return them as power shots.
She went to net what qualifies as a lot these days, Nav would laugh at that, of course, but Venus had gone to net over 20 times by the end of the second set. I don't know the total, but when Venus was winning slams, she rarely went to net more than five or six times a match. If that. She showed a lot of confidence in her volley, even when Conchi was passing her, or when she missed a volley or two. And she missed very few of them.
While I am blissfully ectastic tha Venus won this title, it has to be acknowledged that she didn't beat any top ten players to do it. Did she beat any of the top ten CLAY COURT players? Probably two of them. But the rankings don't go by surface.
Venus accepted certain risks that maybe I wouldn't. Even when it became apparent that Conchi was having a good serving day, Venus took every first serve standing on the baseline. She took every second serve three feet inside the baseline. That meant giving up some service winners to Conchi.
Most of Venus' double faults were long. She was going for what I would have considered ridiculous depth on her second serve. Then again, to beat Serena, she's going to have to have consistent depth on her second serve. If you go for that kind of depth on a second serve, you're going to have double-faults.
Another word or two on volleys. First, Venus ought to move Conchi into her home, and practice against her every day. What a nightmare array of passing shots! Offensive lobs, slices, topspins, floaters, crosscourt, DTL. Venus is not going to play anybody else this year with more ways to beat an opponent at net. But Venus won the battle. That crosscourt drop volley winner was Hingis-esque. And Venus got consistent depth on her approach shots, and consistent depth on her volleys.
This tournament was far and away the best net display I've seen from Venus.
Is the nuclear devastation of 2000-1 back? I think not. But I also think Venus had taken that as far as she could.
A couple months ago I called Serena the Death of the Power Baseliner. I think that still holds. She's unbeatable by anyone playing that style. But Justine proved that if a) you aren't giving Serena too big an edge on pace, b) you get some free points of your own on serve, c) you throw a lot variety at her, and d) you're playing on clay, Serena can be taken.
Venus can do a) and b), doesn't have to worry about d) and is clearly working on c). ('Digs C & W and R & B and me and the chimpazee agree that one day soon she'll be, a celebrity.')
Venus the power baseliner was as good as she'd ever be.
Venus the all-court net-rusher has room to grow. A LOT of room.
You notice in her post match TV
interview, when they asked her about going to net so often, she replied, "Well, I guess Billie Jean can be happy now. And Zina. And my Mom and Dad." Get the idea that the coaches are unified in the idea that she get her bony ass to net?
I see this tournament as a sign that Venus has decided to become a better tennis player, not just a winning one. She can still blast 99% of the tour off the court. But she won't become the best she can be that way.
The win was nice. The way she played was nicer.