Thursday, May 7, 2009

When in Rome...

Greetings Octf's,

Just wanted to check in and let you all know that there's some pretty serious red-clay litmus tests about to go down tomorrow at the Italian Open.

But before I discuss the trivial matter of actual matches, I want to flashback to earlier in the week to the following quotes, captured by Asap Sports, which were uttered by the illimitable Serena Williams at a press conference prior to the start of the tournament.

Q. What about the No. 1? Safina now is the No. 1.


Q. It's a new question, no?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm excited for her.

Q. Who do you think is the real No. 1 today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we all know who the real No. 1 is.

Q. A lot people think that if Serena dedicated all of her time to tennis nobody could beat her. How do you feel?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I dedicate a lot of time to tennis, and I dedicate a lot time to other things. So, you know, I have to do what's best for me. Right now, I'm doing that. Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world.

Really? Geez, if you're Dinara Safina, and you've been drooling over your brothers 2 Grand-Slam trophies for the last five years of your life, do you really need any more motivation to go out there and overcome any mental hang-ups that might have previously held you back? Is Serena that confident in her ability that she needs to function as her opponents motivation in order to keep her interest piqued?

This is just plain crazy in my opinion, whether you've got ten more Slams on your mantel than the worlds current # 1 or not.

But don't hate on Serena for saying what she feels, i.e. letting it all hang out and being completely honest with the press. You know what they ain't cocky if you can back it up...well, after her uninspired first round loss to 30-year-old Patty Snyder, her remarks are looking cockier, much cockier in fact, then when she first deigned to offer them up.

Now... on to more pressing matters, we've got two chances to look deeper into the clay court looking glass tomorrow, as Dinara Safina takes on Venus Williams in one Italian Open Semi-final and red-hot Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Victoria Azarenka in the other. All four have to be considered possibilities for a Roland Garros crown at this point, but each still has a lot to gain in terms of confidence if they can play big on the red clay in Rome.

With Serena maybe potentially hampered by the leg injury that slowed her in the Miami finals against Azarenka, the field looks even wider open that we already thought it would be.

Kuznetsova was stellar last week taking the Stuttgart title, and she's been good again this week in victories over Italian Flavia Pennetta and Jelena Jankovic. Another two wins and her confidence would surely benefit.

Meanwhile the mercurial and streaky Safina is still quick to go from overpowering to overwhelmed. She finds a way to hurt her cause in nearly every set that she plays, but these days, her mental power is strong enough to allow her to find traction before all four wheels come off. It's amazing how much damage she can do when she is firing on all cylinders. But it's also amazing how she can completely lose her form in a matter of seconds and look like a child screaming for her bottle.

While she is a no doubt a head case, she's also got the most upside of all the women on tour, because the less hiccups she commits, the tougher she'll be to stay in a match with.

As far as Azarenka goes, she still looks a little green out there, but man is she feisty. I'm not sure if she's got a Slam in her yet, but her performance in the next to days in Rome could change my mind.

Thanks for reading,

The Fan Child


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