14 August, 2011

The Sunday Line, 8/14/11

Making the call on this weekend's ATP and WTA finals.

Rogers Cup
Toronto, Canada (Hard)

Samantha Stosur
Serena Williams

As quickly as she's rounded her way into form it's easy to forget that Serena Williams is officially ranked 80th in the world and is only playing her fourth tournament of 2011.  As quickly as the wheels fell off after her upset loss to Francesca Schiavone in the Roland Garros final a year ago, it's easy to forget that this time last year Sam Stosur was a top five player who many tennis pundits were pegging as a future Grand Slam champion and potential World No. 1.  Such is tennis, the sport rewards those with the resilience and selective memories to put disappointment behind them consistently and bounce back to fight another day.

Williams comes into the final riding a ten match win streak, looking to back up her Stanford title and take firm control of the US Open Series standings.  More importantly, a win for Williams would vault her ranking back as high as No. 31 which would leave her hovering around the seeding cutoff for the US Open.  Sam Stosur's strong week has already vaulted her back into the Top 10 (ousting Andrea Petkovic after a solitary week in the upper echelon).  More important for Stosur is the momentum a win could provide; the Aussie hasn't hoisted a winner's trophy since Charleston in April 2010 and she hasn't figured in a final since being utterly dominated by clay-court specialist (haha) Maria Sharapova in Rome. 

After playing listless ball and being tested by Jie Zheng and Lucie Safarova early, Williams found a higher gear and cruised against 4th ranked Victoria Azarenka in her semifinal.  Stosur worked her way past an in-form Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets to book her sixth showdown with Williams.  Williams leads the head-to-head, 3-2, but Stosur won their last matchup 8-6 in the third during her run to the Roland Garros final.  If Williams doesn't have the mental intensity she showed against Azarenka, Stosur could close it out, but ultimately this title will be won or lost on Williams' BLX.  Stosur hasn't played anyone with Serena's power this week, she doesn't have momentum on her side and she doesn't have a great track record at the business end of events (she's 2-8 in singles finals).  Of course, Stosur can take the title home, but it'll be a matter of Serena losing it. 

Winner: Serena Williams

Rogers Cup
Montreal, Canada (Hard)

Novak Djokovic

Mardy Fish
First of all, let's give credit where credit is due.  Playing his third event in the US Open Series, World No. 8 Fish is in his third final after winning in Atlanta and losing a stunner to Ernests Gulbis in the LA final.  He started the week with a miserable record in Canada, never having gotten out of the first round and playing in a draw with the entire Big Four (all of whom have won this title at least once), yet somehow he's in the final.  It's called taking advantage of your opportunities and it's something top players almost always do.  The draw opened up, Fish traipsed through and good for him this is a HUGE result.  He plays Novak Djokovic in the final.  Well, his runner-up check of $224,000 will probably be the biggest single payday of his career to date.

Unless Fish injects Djokovic with intravenous gluten this morning, I can't see the American winning this match.  Djokovic is in absolutely devastating form at the moment.  He beat World No. 7 Gael Monfils so badly in the semifinals that a judge might grant the Frenchman a restraining order.  Even before either gentleman was playing at the peak of his respective powers, Djokovic dominated the head-to-head with Fish, leading 6-0.  Their last meeting in the Indian Wells semis this year was a 6-3, 6-1 whitewash.  Poutine has gluten, doesn't it?

Mardy Fish is having a career year and by no means do we want to make light of all that he's acheived, but today he's playing a guy who's simply better and on fire, end of story.  Mardy needs to come out guns blazing like his buddy James Blake is wont to do.  Even if he does, he's likely to be second best on the day, but hell, he'll find plenty of empathy in the locker room.  In the big picture, this is a chance for Fish to tune up his game for the US Open.  Who knows what opportunities may present themselves in New York.  Fish has never been past the quarterfinals of a major, but right now he's the second most consistent player in the game.

Winner: Novak Djokovic

1 comment:

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