Serena Williams vs. Dinara Safina at WTA Champs: Do You Care?
by Jeremy Davis | October 26th, 2009, 12:53 am

Q1: Do you really give a **poop** about the WTA Tour year-end championships in far-away Doha, the Middle East?

Q2: Do you think the players care about the year-end championships?

Q3: Who will end the year No. 1?

Many times the year-end championships comes around and the No. 1 ranking is moot. This time, Serena Williams and Dinara Safina are battling for No. 1, and whoever gets farther in the tournament, finishes No. 1.

Safina is in the easier group with No. 8 qualifier Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, and Victoria Azarenka in the White Group.

Serena is in the tougher Maroon Group facing sister Venus, French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva.

BTW, according to the WTA, dumb-ass Qatari tennis authorities paid $42 million to stage the season-ending event for three years until it moves to Istanbul in 2011. Cha-ching WTA!

“We always wish for the number one ranking to be on the line at the tour finals and that’s what we’ve got this year,” Andrew Walker, the WTA’s senior vice-president of marketing and communications told Reuters by telephone. “And Doha is giving us wheel barrels full of money which is awesome!”

Sorry, I made up that last part.

According to Reuters, “The WTA Tour finals have often struggled to capture the imagination of the public. Last year in Doha the early round robin matches were played in a muted atmosphere, although the fact that Serbia’s Jankovic had already clinched the number one spot hardly boosted late ticket sales.”

Check the stands, see how full they are this year.

This year’s storylines:

Who deserves No. 1, Safina who plays her ass off winning WTA events but choking at the Slams, or Serena who wins the Slams but hardly plays WTA events, and doesn’t win them when she does?

How Photoshopped was that ESPN The Magazine cover with a naked Serena? Where she looks hot but has looked HUGE this year at some tournaments? That SI cover was hot.

Will Serena keep dissing Safina in her post-match conferences or “take the high road”? Will the media take it to her or whuss out?

When will the ITF bring the hammer down on Serena for going ape-shit on that lineswoman at the US Open? Will she be out of the Aussie Open?

Is Caroline Wozniacki just a hot blonde ball retriever or can she hang with the big girls?

Funny that the best players on tour — Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, who will be playing in 2010 — aren’t in Doha.

Now is the time for Safina to erase all the “fails” from 2009, not only outlasting Serena in Doha, but beating Serena in Doha.

Let the game begin.

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26 Comments for Serena Williams vs. Dinara Safina at WTA Champs: Do You Care?

Walter Says:

I dont follow, how on earth do you consider Clijster, Sharapova and Henin to be the best players on tour. As for Henin, isnt it like saying Michael Jordan is the best player in NBA?? So Sharapova becomes the best player because she won some tournament in Asia?

rsp Says:

i wonder how there can even be a claim that serena is the real no 1. some of the ridiculous arguments made are:

1. it is the slams that matter-agreed, the slams are the most important. that is why on winning a slam you get 2000 points. winning the next best (miami, madrid etc) gets you only 1000 points, WHERE THE FIELD AND HENCE THE COMPETITION IS THE SAME. so if serena is no 2 despite 2 grandslams it just goes to show how abysmally poor her record in the rest of the year is.
2. serena hardly plays wta tournaments- this year she has played 17 while safina has played 18. so check your facts please. with the exception of woznaiki, all top 8 players have played between 16-19 tournies.
3. serena doesnt play well in the non-slams: whos fault is that? anyway, the points are so heavily stacked in the favour of the slams that even a moderate performance outside of the slams would have given her the no 1.
so at the moment, safina is the true no 1. not a great one, possibly the weakest no 1 in a long time, but definitely and deservingly the no 1 in the world.

rsp Says:

btw, why have they mentioned on the wta site that there cannot be an all williams final?
if they top the pool and win their semi final matches, they can meet, right?

nyc tennis grrl Says:

Right on, rsp. Serena should keep her mouth shut and focus on playing tennis instead of blaming the WTA for her lack of #1 status. When the points add up, I’ll believe she’s number 1. Until then it’s just gamesmanship. And I’ve heard enough picking on Safina. True, she hasn’t lived up to her promise, but she’s under more pressure than any other non-slam winning #1 has ever been. The press is acting as if she were the first non-slam winning tennis player to be # 1. Hardly.

jane Says:

I fully agree with rsp @2:58 – good post.

nyc tennis girl: “The press is acting as if she were the first non-slam winning tennis player to be # 1. Hardly.”

This is also true, but I do agree with those who Safina should just lay low in the press to avoid stoking the fires. Her best bet at this point would be to overuse “no comment”.

Jeremy – perhaps there are a few too many “hots” in your amalgamation of “storylines”.

Gordo Says:

@rsp – excellent points. Concise and I agree with you 100%.

Womens’ tennis is still sorting itself out and the best thing to happen would be if Serena met Safina in the final and the number one ranking for year end was decided at this final match, as it was last year in the mens’ doubles tournament.

Is being #1 at year end important? Goodness knows everyone loves to point out that Pete Sampras was #1 for 6 years and this is cited as another record Federer needs to take from him before he can lay claim to being the GOAT.

But the womens’ game is in a strange place right now. Clijsters wins the US Open but is not at the final tournament. Didn’t it used to be that if you win a slam you automatically qualify?

I agree that Henin needs to prove herself before we can lament her not being in Doha. And Sharapova? She is not back to where she was yet, so she does not deserve to be there either.

And RSP – I do not believe after the round robin there is a crossover for the semis, so only one finalist can come out of each group. The Williams may have to play each other, but it would be in the semis, not in the final.

carrie johnson Says:

I cannot figure out, for the live of me, how the author of the above article can say that it is a shame that the 3 best players are not playing in Doha. How does Clijsters, Henin, and Sharapova figure out to be the best players? Clijsters came in when the tennis season was just about over and everyone was tired and whining down to win a questionable slam event. Henin hasn’t played in 18 months (probably due to suspension for juicing) and Sharapova has won 1 event and is still trying to get to her former self following shoulder surgery.

That statement about being the best players in the world certainly makes no sense under current circumstances. Venus and Serena are best players in the world and the ones to beat.

carrie johnson Says:

The BEST players in the world ARE the ones playing at Doha this year and they do not include Henin nor Clijsters nor Sharapova. Neither of the three qualify for Doha nor for being the best in the world.

Serena has 11 slams and Venus 7, gold medals in singles and doubles, and won all 4 doubles slams this year, so how do the other three SUPERCEDE these stats? Answer: They cannot, therefore they are NOT the best in the world, plain and simple.

Kimmi Says:

Three good matches tomorrow.

1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Elena Dementieva vs. Venus Williams
3. Serena Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

The first match I go with JJ to win. I don’t know what form Azarenka is coming with, she has performed poorly recently..maybe she can surprise me.

Second match is Venus to win. Whatever form Venus is on..demantieva always plays her worst game with Venus, cannot understand this match-up

Kutzy is coming off a good win in Beijing, she will be confident. I think this will be the toughest one to predict. If Kutzy cuts down on UEs she will have a chance. can Serena bring her GS form in doha ? I hope so…

Kimmi Says:

“And RSP – I do not believe after the round robin there is a crossover for the semis, so only one finalist can come out of each group. The Williams may have to play each other, but it would be in the semis, not in the final.”

Gordo, is this a new rule ? coz in previous years they used to crossover in the what RSP said.

Pos 1 (white grp) Vs Pos 2 (maroon grp)
Pos 2 (white grp) Vs Pos 1 (maroon grp)

So whomever wins in the semi can play the final, ie Venus and Serena could meet.

sar Says:

Kimmi, I will be watching tomorrow all day!

Kimmi Says:

Sar, I am jealous. I cannot watch but will follow the live score. Hopefully tennistv will have copies of full matches to watch at later hrs. They did that for Shanghai, they still have full matches available to watch at your leisure. Fingers crossed.

leo Says:

There are a couple of ‘misconceptions’ that I think need to be clarified:

1. That Serena does not play often. While this may be true for past seasons, Serena has played atleast 17 events this year. Dinara has played 18. The problem is that Serena doesn’t play well in smaller events. Something else of interest: Justine played only 14 events in 2007 and was streets ahead of the #2.

2. That Venus is one of the best 2 players in the world. While she may be the 2nd best career-wise of her generation (I think #3, Henin is #2 IMO) I don’t think she has won a single tournament this year. And her results at just about any tournament besides Wimbledon is pretty tame. Is this really the 2nd best the WTA has to offer?


JoshDragon Says:

No, I really don’t care very much about the WTA year end finals. I don’t feel that either of those players really deserve to be #1 but I guess Serena would be the lesser of two evils because she does usually put up a good performance in the majors.

If there was a really good player in the WTA, that was fully committed to the game and performed well in the slams, then I would probably follow it more closely.

leo Says:

My bad – Venus did win 2 tournaments this year. But I still don’t think she is one of the 2 best players on the WTA. If Serena deserves credit for her play at the 4 majors, check Venus’ results form the majors.

Skorocel Says:

Maroon Group? LOL :-)

Voicemale1 Says:

The groups are disparate, and that’s being kind. It’s a sad state when you have 8 women qualify for a Season Ending Championship and only 3 of them are holders of any Singles Grand Slam Title. If there was any clearer statement to show how Henin’s return is so needed for the Women’s game, this is it.

This looks for all the world like it’s Serena’s tournament to lose. After losing the heartbreaker SF at Wimbledon, it would be a justice of sorts for Dementieva if she could find a way to sneak though this whole thing and lift the trophy. Mauresmo & Clijsters both managed to win their WTA YEC before they had won the Majors they did, so maybe some Just Desserts for Dementieva this time around.

sar Says:

Azarenka was really good today and has potential IMO if she can get her emotions in check and learn more consistency. Too bad Venus sort of let it get away from her today but I am happy for Elena. Not too often she beats Venus.

Kimmi Says:

sar, I did not see any of the matches but followed the live score. I see my predictions went very wrong..never got any of them right..bummer ! I am also glad demantieva got a win from venus, she has lost to her the last 6 times they played and from the match today it looked like she was about to lose it too. Great comeback.

What happened to JJ today? I know you said Azarenka was very good, but JJ needs to show more fight…that was a demolition job from azarenka. Its worrying for JJ to lose like this, her loss in Moscow was easy one too. It not looking good. Maybe she can get her revenge against safina tomorrow he he he !!

I saw Serena/Kutzy was back and forth..Kutzy breaks Serena few times and then gave the break right back. aaarg ! Kutzy should have got the 1st set, she has 2 setpoints I think. But Serena is always a champ, never count her out..looks like She is here on business, she wants her number one back maybe.

sar Says:

Maybe she can get her revenge against safina tomorrow he he he !!

JJ looked like crap. Millions of UE’s. If JJ can beat Safina she has a chance of staying alive. Depends which one of them has more energy tomorrow. LOL
Serena and Kuzzy match was ugly. I didn’t know who was going to take this.

been there Says:

Hmmm, Safina has retired with a back injury against Jankovic. The commentators say they aren’t sure she’ll be ready for her next match…& may be out of the championship. She was in tears, and she’s retired after only one game, so seems like it’s really bad. Quite unfortunate…talk of nothing going your way!

If Safina can’t play, seems like Serena has the year end WTA no1….so congrats to her…but slim as it may be, I’m hoping that Safina somehow recovers so that the ‘real no 1’ is decided by play.

MMT Says:

I really can’t understand how the author can claim that Murray and Djokovic are neck and neck – Djokovic has:

1. a slam
2. a year end championship
3. Olympic bronze medal
4. 4 MS (1000’s) wins
5. 6 MS (1000’s) finals

By comparison Murray has just 4 MS (1000’s) to match Djokovic, the rest is no comparison.

The author is clearly British.

Kimmi Says:

Safina apparently had this problem for about 3 months now, she needed cortisone injections to play today but her body just gave up. This probably explains her mediocre performance throughout the US open and Asian swing.

She said, she also wanted to fight for her number one, this is the reason she continue to play. Probably not a very smart move as she couldn’t really make any play and maybe aggravate the injury there is a possibility she could miss the Aussie open in January. Sound as if there is a serious problem.

She should be proud of herself, she almost hold the year end number 1 even when playing with an injury. She should concentrate on getting herself better and come strong next year , she will get a another chance to prove year 2009 was not a fluke.

safina story here:

BTW, what a comeback by Wozniacki, she is a good counterpuncher..Gets every ball back and I am sure she frustrates a lot of players.

Top story: Djokovic Returns to ATP Play This Week In Tel Aviv; Sinner In Sofia, Ruud In Seoul