Up til yesterday, if Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova, and Agnieszka Radwanska are the last six players in a non-clay court slam, I'd say 'just give Venus the trophy'. She beat all these players the last time she played them.
2007 Wimbledon R16 def SHARAPOVA 6-1 6-3
2007 Wimbledon SMI def IVANOVIC 6-2 6-4
2007 SAN DIEGO R16 def HANTUCHOVA 6-0 6-3
2007 U.S. Open R16 def IVANOVIC 6-4 6-2
2007 U.S. Open QTR def JANKOVIC 4-6 6-1 7-6(4)
As for Radwanska ... oops....
2006 Luxembourg R16 A. RADWANSKA def Venus 6-3 6-0
Still, Venus is a prohibitive favorite. Of course she is. I mean, let's be realistic. Six GS singles titles and a daunting advantage head-to-head. Hantuchova and Ivanovic have never beaten her. Jankovic is injured. Radwanska's a baby. Sharapova's game is tailor-made for Venus. Right? So why do I have this nagging doubt?
If you had told me before yesterday that Ivanovic, Jankovic and Sharapova were playing Venus, Serena and Henin, I'd have bet real money on two out of three wins for the old guard. I certainly would NOT bet on ALL the GS title holders from 2007 losing in the first slam of 20078 in the same 28 hour period. But after watching Serena and Henin lose, and lose convincingly, in matches that were not even competitive, now I have .... doubts. It's not like Venus has using the roadgrader offense. She's hasn't dropped a set, but she hasn't had any easy sets either. Meanwhile Ivanovic seems to be at the top of her game.
The changing of the guard that began in 1997 wasn't done until 2002, Capriati being the last slam winner from the 'pre-Williams' generation. Are we looking at the end of the change that began in 2004? This generation of players produced quite a few slam winners. Serena, Venus, Henin, Hingis, plus a one-offs for Myskina and Clijsters. Four players within a couple years of age of eash other with five or more slam singles titles is golden age stuff. But sooner or later, that sort of run comes to an end.
This tournament saw quite a few 'Old School' vs 'New Age' matches
Davenport vs Sharapova
Dementieva vs Peer
Dementieva vs Sharapova
Venus vs Ivanovic
Serena vs Jankovic
Henin vs Sharapova
Hantuchova vs Radwanska
Petrova vs Radwanska
Venus vs Domachowska
And as we stand here now, New Age is kicking Old School's collective ass. There are six women left in the tournament. Only one is over age 25. The rest? 24, 22, 20, 20 and 18. Youth will
be served. Mere mortals cannot hold back the tides, especially the tides of history.
Tonight, we will see what a goddess can do.
But regardless of the outcome, the sound of the inevitable is quite loud now. 'Generation Sharapova' is on the march. The only question is do the best of the current generation 'go gently into that good night'? Or 'rage, rage against the dying of the light'?