With rain in the offing today, it is doubtful whether there will be any play today on Ladies Semifinal day. In any event, like most tennis, optimism reigns supreme and so the previews will go up on the hope that there will be play today.
The 4 women who have reached this round of the last Major of the year did so by playing fearless tennis. They have not had it easy as they all had tough opponents in the quarter-finals.
What else can you say about the World’s No. 1 that has not already been said. Take away everything else that Serena has acocmplished and you are left with this understated fact. Since losing to Stosur at the US Open in 2011, Serena has not lost a match at this event. She has been the reigning champion here since 2012. That is 3 years running. That she has done so during what is without a doubt one of the toughest times in women’s tennis is a testament to her longevity as well as the consistency that she has been able to maintain. What makes this even more remarkable is that she is doing this at a time when most players have already retired and raising families.
Her opponent the veteran Roberta Vinci is into her first Major semifinal at the age of 32. Long considered a doubles specialist, Vinci along with her former partner Sara Errani, achieved something that had not been done by Italians before and that is when they won the doubles championship at Wimbledon. Vinci does not really have the weapons with which to hurt Serena and in their last match, even though the Italian played well, at the end, the stronger game of Serena put another W in the American’s column. Look for the same to happen here tonight.
In the second semifinal, the No. 2 ranked player, Simona Halep overcame a break down in the third set to get past 2 time USO Finalist Victoria Azarenka in a hard fought match. Next up for Halep is another Italian veteran and someone who is no stranger to this round at the US Open, Flavia Pennetta.
Pennetta, considering retiring from the sport 2 years ago, made her return to the top of women’s tennis by winning her biggest title at Indian Wells. How fortuitous that this year Simona Halep won her biggest title of her career also at Indian Wells. Both women have a lot to play for. Simona trying to get to her second Major final and Pennetta trying to get to her first. Both women will come out swinging but I think the wily Italian will no doubt embrace the occasion a lot quicker than her younger opponent.
Serena over Vinci
Pennetta over Halep
Final: Serena over Pennetta
It is not often that the Spin makes mention of men’s tennis on this blog, but I think what has happened to James Blake needs a mention here, not only because of what happened, but in the greater concept of the at large almost silence that has permeated social media regarding the incident.
In case you have been living under a rock, the New York Daily News has reported that former No. 4 James Blake was accosted by police, body slammed to the ground by 5 of New York’s finest in front of the Grand Hotel in New York in a case of supposed mistaken identity. While there have been articles written about in the mainstream media, and Tennis Channel’s commentators mentioned it this morning during their live show.
As someone who does not live in the US I can’t identify with the issues that are raised as it relates to racism and the use of excessive force by police as it relates to black people. However, I can relate to the use of excessive police force as it relates to classism as where I come from police brutality is usually against those who are poor and live in so called low income communities. The outrage that I was expecting from fans of the sport regarding this incident has been low key at best and non-existent at worst. The same folks who were calling for the head of Nick Kyrgios recently have largely remained silent on this blatant issue of racism. Maybe I am over analysing the situation and I am sure that someone will point this out to me at some point, but the response from tennis has been nothing short of head scratching.
In addition to the barely there response from the social activists in tennis, Blake’s idea that what happened to him was not as a result of racism has left me scratching my head. I suspect he prefers to think that this had more to do with excessive force being used by the police, rather than excessive force being used to subdue him because he was a black man. I guess whatever makes him sleep at night.