With a sparse few looking on from the stands, Serena Williams clinched her second career year-end No. 1 finish after edging her sister and defending champion Venus, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4), during Wednesday’s Doha Championships.
“It was really, really close,” Serena said. “It was almost three hours. It really could have went any way. In the third, at the end of the third, she just started playing great. I was just trying to do what I could do. I just kept saying, I want to end this year No. 1, so I better lift up the level of my game.”
I only caught a little of the match but what I did see seemed to be of good quality and entertaining tennis. Unfortunately the stands in Doha were near-empty. I’d have to guess that was the fewest fans to ever watch an all-sisters showdown. And the result looked really bad on TV and it brings into the question the need to stage these championships in areas of the world that simply are not that into tennis.
Serena’s ranking was all but secured after news broke earlier in the day of current No. 1 Dinara Safina’s withdrawal. The embattled Russian almost fittingly ended her 2009 season withdrawing from the event at 1-1 in the first set against Jelena Jankovic because of an ailing back.
Said Safina: “It’s a low back, between L4, L5. I have inflammation there, in the bone, inflammation. I’ve been having it already, I would say, started slowly since Portoroz. I’ve been playing on the pain, on antiinflammatory, on everything. So this been already for about three months, this pain.”
Dinara says she may need as much as “six weeks” to recover leaving her Australian Open attendance in doubt. Because injury, expectations, the weight of the No. 1 ranking and the like, since the French the Russian’s been an emotional wreck on the tour. Time off away from tennis could do her some good provided she gets her back taken care of.
As for Serena, credit to her, there’s little doubt that’s she’s the best player in women’s tennis and after a wild year on the WTA she deserves the No. 1 finish.
Serena’s second win moves her into the semifinals. Joining her from the Maroon Group will likely be Elena Dementieva who plays Serena today but can clinch a final four spot tomorrow with a win over Sveta Kuznetsova.
With Safina out the white group in wide open. But at this stage I like Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka to get through. I just hope they get some more people in the stands.
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