Whoaaaa - what a great match = Jen/Momo. Hopefully, Venus will come out of the gates smokin tonite.
"LET'S GO VENUS"
Williams sisters' continued dominance
Venus and Serena are no sisters of mercy
Scott Ostler Wednesday, September 4, 2002
New York -- THE PRODIGAL sun returned to the U.S. Open Tuesday, just in time. I couldn't take listening to one more horror story of players suffering through the rain delays.
Hey, you're waiting for your match, you don't know whether to eat or nap or get a massage, or all three at once. You're in imminent danger of having your pedicure interrupted by a summons to the court. In the crowded Players' Lounge,
you have to wait in line for a turn on the PlayStation 2 machines.
We outsiders can only glimpse the flaming hell it must be to wait out a rain delay.
But when things got back to normal Tuesday, things got abnormal. A Williams almost lost. That would have rained on the experts' parade.
Venus Williams, two-time defending champ, suddenly came up human. She had to rally to defeat Chandra Rubin 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. At 5-5 in the third set, Rubin had two break points but swatted two errant shots.
By winning the second set, though, the 14th-seeded Rubin snapped Venus' Open streak of 11 straight-set wins, dating back to 2000. Big news: Venus looked beatable.
"I was thinking a little bit, this is how I used to play in '98, back in the day," said Williams, who had 41 unforced errors, to 25 for Rubin. "I don't like to go backward to those times. Those were tough times for me."
Venus plays Monica Seles tonight in the quarterfinals. Seles beat Martina Hingis 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday. Monica hasn't won a major in six years, but can't be intimidated. She knocked Venus out of the Australian Open this year.
Since then, though, the Williamses -- Venus and sister Serena -- pretty much have completed their hostile takeover of the women's tour. They met in the finals of the past two Grand Slam events. Between them, they've won seven of the past 11 Grand Slams, and it's hard to remember when they weren't favored to run the table.
The other women talk about how Venus and Serena have elevated their games this year. The consensus is that until further notice, which was almost served Tuesday by Rubin, this is their world and the other women are just scenery.
The Williams sisters have Tigerized tennis this year. Venus has won six tournaments, Serena five.
See if this debate sounds familiar: Are Venus and Serena saving their sport with their brilliance, or ruining it by rendering meaningless any match involving a non-Williams?
Some other comparisons between Tiger Woods and the sisters: Dark skin color in a bleached-white sport. Raised and trained well outside the country-club gates. Coached by a dad driven by a crazy dream.
Like Tiger, Venus and Serena are young, strong, frighteningly poised and composed and confident, and are fashion models in their sports.
They monopolize the endorsements and hardware and attention. Along with the adoration and respect, they also inspire fear, anger and jealousy.
Like Tiger, the Williamses seem to have pounded and frightened their opponents into submission, so it's a shock when one of them falters, even a little.
No faltering for Serena on Tuesday. Under the lights, she made her usual combo fashion/tennis statement, with the cat suit accessorized in bright pink and a red-hot power game.
Serena routed 11th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-2. Hantuchova, a wispy 5-foot-11 and 123 pounds, was in danger of being blown away by the backwash of Serena's serve. Williams served 12 aces, Hantuchova one. Williams hit 29 winners, Hantuchova six.
Serena finished it off with an ace down the T.
To take nothing away from the intelligence and finesse of Serena's game, she's just too powerful for these stickwomen.
Can Venus provide a challenge? Serena says that in her practice sessions here with her sister, Venus has been the superior player. This might be sisterly love talking. Based on Tuesday's action, if the Williamses meet in the finals, Venus better bring a lunch.
Serena has won the past two Slams -- the French Open and Wimbledon. She seemingly has overcome the tendinitis in her knee that plagued her recently. Right now, finding a flaw in Serena's game is like reading a "Where's Waldo" book.
Serena faces some power in the semis in Lindsay Davenport, who beat Elena Bovina 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 Tuesday. Davenport is in the latter stages of a comeback from knee surgery and is playing well, but so is Serena.
"I don't know why," Serena said, "but I feel so free and floaty, just carefree."
Why is she playing so well?
"I'm tired, really, I'm tired of losing," Serena said. "I'm getting older. Soon it's not going to be my turn anymore. So while it is my turn, I have to take it for all it's worth and enjoy it."
E-mail Scott Ostler at firstname.lastname@example.org