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Serena Williams: Early jitters again or a Changing Balance of Power?

By Abhimanyu Nagpal    + Follow

Reads: 2,286, Comments: 5

Keywords: The Championships | US Open | London Olympics | Australian Open | Roland Garros | Serena-Williams | Maria-Sharapova | Victoria-Azarenka | Sloane-Stephens
Serena Williams: Early jitters again or a Changing Balance of Power?
Coming into the recently concluded Australian Open as an overwhelming favorite, World No.2 Serena Williams was upset by up-coming superstar Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals.

Coming into the recently concluded Australian Open as an overwhelming favorite, World No.2 Serena Williams was upset by up-coming superstar Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals. One couldn’t help but wonder, whether the 31 year-old is slowly but surely fading away with newer stars ready to pounce.

It was definitely a disappointing tournament for Serena, but it was more down to fortune than her playing badly this time. Serena was sublime in her opening matches and displayed immense strength in character when she defeated 6-0,6-0 in her opening match, this despite twisting her ankle. The World No.2 then continued to play ‘Serena’ tennis all through the tournament, serving big and returning bigger. She looked impenetrable all through her run till the quarters.

In the quarters however, it all changed as an inspired performance from teenage sensation Stephens coupled with a back injury cost her big time. What worries more is not her defeat to the talented youngster on the other hand, it is these injuries. Other than the ankle and the bad back, one must remember that Serena also had surgery on her big toes at the start of the year.

Another major factor that works against the American is her age, at 31 years of age Serena isn’t getting any younger and that physical style of play is demanding. Her ankle’s are constantly under pressure and every time any opponent starts to control rallies from the back of the court, Serena struggles. The biggest danger for Serena is that sometimes when she is being moved from side to side, she tends to not realize her obvious limitation when it comes to movement on the court. Such is her domination from the baseline that every-time Serena is forced into a couple of testing rallies where her opponent takes control Serena tends to look a bit off balance.

The Competition

Often touted as the next big thing, World No.1 Victoria Azarenka has definitely come of age with that second triumph in Melbourne. This year’s win would have meant a lot more to the Belarusian considering all the controversies related to her, and would hence inspire a lot of confidence in her. Most believe Azarenka’s final hurdle is that psychological win over Serena that would perhaps completely alter her career trajectory. And 2013 will surely be a battle between these two, and if the American comes out second best in even two matches it will represent a shift in power.

And while the Belarusian is definitely the biggest threat to Serena’s reign in the WTA circuit, the American will be under tremendous pressure from World No.3 Maria Sharapova too. Sharapova and Williams have had a major rivalry ever since the 25 year-old beat the Palm Beach resident at Wimbledon in 2004. Every single time these two clash, there is an obvious animosity in the air and even though Sharapova hasn’t beaten Williams after that match one knows that the Russian would love to get one over her.

Apart from the above mentioned two, the competition in women’s game keeps getting tougher especially as 23 year-old Pole Agnieszka Radwanska grows with leaps and bounds with every passing tournament and Li Na also accelerating especially after hiring Carlos Rodriguez as her new coach. Not to mention young talents like Sloane coming up themselves, Serena finds herself in quite a spot of bother.

The Verdict

Over the past few years, experts seem to write Serena off almost at will and Serena has always responded well and come out stronger every time.

Starting in 2011, where Serena failed to win a Slam losing to Sam Stosur in an incredible finale at the event experts started to predict her downfall. Her poor form had continued at the Australian Open last year, where a wounded Serena was knocked out by Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round and then at the French Open Serena suffered a first round shock defeat for the first time in her career.

Written off completely at Wimbledon, Serena came back stronger and went on an amazing run enduring just one defeat till the end of the season. Her resolve and determination was something out of the ordinary and being written off, seems to spur her on the most.

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Posted By richardh,   Posted about 1897 days and 14 hours ago

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I just find it ridiculous the title 'changing balance of power' . Did she not just win Wimbledon singles and doubles, Olympic gold singles and doubles. The us open and the year end championships? Not to mention she is about to become world number 1. It would be more relevant talking about serena's dominance of the sport than her 1 loss in Australia and dwelling in the past on her comeback from a hospital bed......also serena was the bookies favourite going into Wimbledon last year so I do fail to see how that coincides with 'written off completely'.

Posted By phanjching,   Posted about 1898 days and 2 hours ago

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@richard...I agree with the writer here, the reader probably missed the underlying current of the story...he shud read the last section â??the verdict" to grasp the story..n throughout the content it is almost explicitly stated that her injuries hurt her performance. but she still gave what others in her position could never have done so...that said, it is the critics across the globe that has raised the question concerned...lastly, one should realise that no writer without a passion for the game will be writing this article...its an article based on ground realities and not just something swayed by being judgemental, or emotional attachment with the one of d greatest player in open era.

Posted By abhimanyunagpal,   Posted about 1898 days and 2 hours ago

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Fun, aren't you? The London Olympics were actually played after Wimbledon. I understand the emotion driving you, but really this article isn't about the end of her. On the flipside, its on how she reacts when she is down.

Posted By richardh,   Posted about 1898 days and 4 hours ago

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This has to be one of the worst articles I have ever read. She had an ankle the size of a water melon and lower back problems in oz. This article should be about how on earth did she manage to make the quarterfinals. 'Starting in 2011 when serena failed to win a slam' she had nearly died, the fact she managed to get to the finals? Give the woman a break. 'Written off completely at Wimbledon' wasn't this after she won Olympic gold in singles and doubles destroying the field with ease? Like I said one of the worst articles ever. Nagpal I suggest doing some research before attempting to write your next disaster........

Posted By bojo,   Posted about 1898 days and 5 hours ago

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She was clearly injured with back and ankle problems. How is this even a question?



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