Serena should be only about 300 Points from Venus now. Lordy - lordy - lordy.
Come on Lenox!
BRICKER: Younger sister has the edge
Published June 8, 2002
PARIS -- For the first time in their eight-match history, Serena Williams will be favored to win over her older sister, Venus, in the women's final today at the French Open.
Throw out the rankings, which Monday will read Venus No. 1 and Serena No. 2. They are, in reality, 1A and 1B with Jennifer Capriati a close but distinct third.
Who gets the A and who gets the B will be decided this afternoon.
Part of the reason Serena is favored is her emotionally significant win over Venus in the semifinals at the Nasdaq-100 Open in March. That one-sided win clearly established that she no longer has the mental block about playing her sister that bewitched her at the 2001 U.S. Open final and the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals.
But there is a more tangible reason she is favored. Her game has taken a quantum leap in the past year. Her confidence is at an all-time high, and she's advertising it with tennis clothes that demand attention and an in-your-face on-court demeanor.
She has been vocal throughout this French Open, doing double-takes on calls she hasn't liked or circling marks for the chair umpire rather than walking away from the controversial spot and letting the umpire do her work.
A victory by Venus today will give her approximately a 1,000-point lead over Serena when the new rankings are released. If Serena wins, she'll close the gap to about 300 points.
Their styles are still similar in some ways, though there also are clear differences.
Both have excellent pace on their first serves, though they could profit by raising the percentage of first serves they get into play. Serena's second serve is solid. Venus' second serve is good enough to handle 95 percent of the women players on tour, but not good enough to control Serena.
When the women played at Key Biscayne this year, Serena won 15 of the 16 second-serve points Venus played.
It will be more difficult to take charge of points directly off Venus' second serve on clay, but if the weather is good and the court fast, Serena will exploit her sister's second serve.
Stylistically, Serena is going to seek an end to the points more quickly than Venus, who has become more patient in rallies. She'll work the points longer than her sister. But if the short ball is there, she'll settle the point with one shot.
Both women will force the play at the net only selectively. In six matches, Venus has been to net 74 times and converted 53 for points (71.6 percent). Serena is 54 for 78 at net (69.2 percent).
As with any match, there can be an emotional factor, and despite the ferocity with which both sisters play, they can go into a defensive shell or get tight in crisis situations.
Serena played passively toward the end of her second set with Capriati in Thursday's semifinal as Capriati wiped out a big Williams lead. But when they got into a second-set tiebreak, Serena regained her aggressiveness.
Charles Bricker can be reached at email@example.com