I think I clicked on "Bet on the 2002 US Open" and saw something about live scores of today's finals. They update every 90 seconds - or something to that affect.
What about Iroda ?
By Alex Gowing
As the hard court season is beginning to pick up, critics are starting to boldly make predictions on who will win the 2002 US Open. As we have seen for the past two years, Venus Williams has been heavily favoured to win the title and this year is no different. She has been the most consistent player in the grand slams this year making the semi finals downunder in the Australian Open, the final at Roland Garros and also the final at Wimbledon. But this year unlike the past two, her sister Serena has hit potent form and has beaten her bigger sister Venus in their past two encounters, both being in Grand Slam Finals this year, those being the French Open and Wimbledon. Losing out in another Grand Slam all Williams final at this tournament last year, Serena is hungry to regain her crown as Champion of Flushing Meadows. But while everybody is talking about how much the power game has taken over women’s tennis and the power of the Williams sisters is not matched by any other on the tour, I sit there and ponder how they can say this.
With clear evidence that players like Iroda Tulyaganova, Alexandra Stevenson, Alicia Molik, Elena Baltacha, Tatiana Perebiynis, Daniela Hantuchova and Mauresmo can at least match the Williams sisters power at least on serve I just can’t understand how this can be said and why these two African-American women can be favoured so much. With power clearly being the difference maker between players at the top level, it astounds me that neither Stevenson or Iroda are in any way thought of as potential winners of a Grand Slam especially on hard court. Iroda just recently has reached her top ranking ever at number 16 and although she has just as much power as the Williams sisters she is apparently in no way a threat to these two mega hitters. Not being in great form during the French Open and Wimbledon it can be understood why this assumption is made, however Iroda’s form on the hard courts earlier this proved that she can mess with the other big hitters. On numerous occasions she has troubled the Williams sisters and Capriati. A prime example of this being at the Ericsson Open 2002 where Iroda took Jennifer Capriati to three sets in a tight battle and had the chance to take the match out in two sets, as she was up a break in the first but failed to serve out the set, and then won the second set. In the same tournament in 2001 she took Serena Williams to three sets. Also in 2001 Iroda beat Henin in a tough three setter and also took out Kim Clijsters in straight sets with the score-line
6-0 6-4. When Tulyaganova is in good form she can beat anyone in the world, that includes the Williams sisters and Capriati.
Alexandra Stevenson hasn’t quite had the same success as 1999 when she made the Wimbledon semi finals as a qualifier, but 2002 is her best and most consistent season since then. She made it to her first tournament final and made the fourth round at both Indian Wells and Miami. Stevenson has also notched up a win against Iroda this season in a three set battle. Alexandra has both the power and the game to trouble the Williams girls when her game is on.
Molik although not quite having the strength in her ground strokes as the Williams sisters have, does have the option of venturing to the net and has great volleys and touch. She also has one of the biggest serve on the tour and on occassions this season has troubled top players. She has taken Monica Seles to three sets and Mary Pierce to three sets this season.
Elena Baltacha also has an extremely powerful serve and ground-strokes but does tend to have a few too many unforced errors. She has been in good form lately making it to the 3rd round of Wimbledon and troubling Likhovtseva in a very tight match who eventually lost out in the quarter finals to Venus Williams.
Another player on the rise with some power is Tatiana Perebiynis who clocked a serve of 114mph at Wimbledon. Most players on the rise are fearless of the top players and are known to make one of their early Grand Slams a great one and the 2002 US Open may be the one for Tatiana.
Whose heard of Daniela Hantuchova? She is a player who is quickly rising to the top. All I have to say about her is that she has the power, she has the ground-strokes, she’s got the volley’s and she’s got the touch. She just needs to consistently use her power for her groundstrokes. For example, in her quarter final match at Wimbledon against Serena. In the first set she went toe-to-toe with Serena and was keeping up the power and kept herself in the match. But in the second set she didn’t keep up the same power and lost her way a bit and eventually the match. But this girl has the talent to go all the way and has no fear of the top players on the tour.
Another fairly experienced campaigner at least compared to a lot of the girls on the tour is Mauresmo. She too has the power especially on the serve and has a great one-handed backed that can beat any player. I think Mauresmo would have to keep to the net to beat the Williams sisters like she did at Wimbledon this year against Capriati. Although she got beaten by Serena in the semi finals she wasn’t quite playing as well as she was against Capriati, if she does then I think she’ll have a chance.
Although I have only commented on the players with extreme power I am not saying that they are the only players who have a chance, I am just reminding the critics that there are other players with power that can match that of the Williams sisters and Capriati. I mean there are still players like Martina Hingis and Bedanova who have awesome finess.