11 September, 2011

Finals At Flushing - US Open 2011 Women's Finals Previews & Predictions

After two long unpredictable weeks, the de facto end of the 2011 tennis season is upon us, US Open Finals "Weekend."  It's a pity that in the greater sports universe, the US Open finals are always overshadowed by the first weekend of NFL games, because as you saw yesterday, the tennis is often electric.  Nevertheless, hardcore tennis fans like myself don't care.  My Eagles are on at 1 and Serena/Stosur starts at 4 or so.  Looks good to me.  I just know better than to think I can watch the finals at my local watering hole.

Tennis may have some major competition on SportsCenter, but our sport couldn't have done much better than these two finals matchups.  What's going to happen between Serena and Stosur, Rafa and Robo-Nole?  Read on for our women's preview.

Women's Final: (9) Samantha Stosur vs. (28) Serena Williams

If you can remember back that far, given the tennis blitzkrieg of the last two weeks, before the tournament started there was a minor controversy about where 3-time champ Serena Williams should be seeded.  You can read what I said about the matter then in more depth, but I can distill it to this quote: "Guess what, it doesn't matter."  

In that piece, I asked how does it protect Serena to be seeded higher when there's no one in this draw that she shouldn't beat...handily?  I also called out Samantha Stosur, who Serena thrashed 6-4, 6-2 a few weeks ago to win the title in Toronto, her second in as many weeks.  I mentioned Stosur (along with Sharapova and Wozniacki) both to affirm the Aussie's status as a contender to make a deep run at the US Open and to say that coming into the tournament, there was no reason for Serena to worry about with that matchup or the other top women.

Serena indeed, faced the World No. 1 Wozniacki yesterday.  The Dane didn't play poorly (for a counterpuncher, hitting only 12 unforced errors is a pretty strong effort), but aside from the 10PM start to the match, she didn't give boyfriend Rory McIlroy a lot of reasons to stay up late and watch from the Netherlands, where he's playing a tournament.  In short, Serena played as advertised and upended the the Woz in a mostly tidy 86 minutes.

The No. 9 seed, Stosur, well, she shouldn't really be here.  Nadia Petrova had her dead to rites in the third round, then she dropped a 17-15 tiebreak to Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round before rallying to make the quarters.  Yesterday, she played a gimme versus streaking World No. 97 Angelique Kerber (whose biggest win in the tournament was over counterpunching 12th-seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the 2nd round) and it surprisingly took Stosur three sets to put the German away.

Serena needs to play within herself against the Aussie, especially if the wind kicks up.  While she has been dominant throughout the tournament, she has been prone to manageable lapses where she'll throw in a couple of double faults or spray a game's worth of errors in a row.  Of particular concern for Williams has been the service return and Stosur's big kick serve may elicit more errors than usual if Serena's hellbent on going big.

While Stosur is a true professional with a lot of game, she's also a player with just TWO career singles titles to her name although she's made 11 finals.  Serena Williams may find herself plagued by nerves at an inopportune moment and drop a pivotal game, maybe even a set.  She will, however, cement her comeback with her 14th major and 4th US Open title.  Why?  Well, if you remember Serena hasn't played in a while and needs the extra cash.  This, considering her US Open Series victory, is worth a $2.8 million payday.  That's a bit of motivation. 

Check back later for our preview of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's men's final. I've got fantasy football teams to update for God's sake.

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