(Hey people - after a seriously long spring and summer full of the highest quality tennis and drama, I'll be taking the rest of the week and weekend off to recharge the batteries but will return on Monday. I hope you've enjoyed DtL's coverage of all the Grand Slams this year - my first year covering all the majors.
I'll leave you guys with contributor Cristina's ladies' US Open wrap-up. And as always, if you're interested in taking a crack at writing, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take it away Cristina!)
The WTA Tour’s new marketing campaign boldly asks if fans are “Looking for a Hero?” Of course they are - duh! With a gaping hole left by Justine Henin’s retirement earlier this year and a revolving front door installed in the WTA Penthouse, tennis fans are hungry for a new dominating lady baller.
As they took the stage for the 2008 US Open, everyone was eager to see which woman would ascend to the top position. Would tour veterans Venus and Serena Williams capture more US Open glory? Would either one of the sensational Serbs, Ana Ivanovic or Jelena Jankovic, continue their country's ascendency to the top? Or would the raging Russians, including Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva, have enough will to win a maiden Grand Slam? As the lights shined brightly on the biggest stage in tennis, these questions met their answers.
Serena Williams looked sharp from the start. The 2-time champ was moving well, crushing opponents at will, and keeping her attitude upbeat leading many to believe this tourney was hers for the taking. In what many consider the de facto final, ReRe met sister Venus in the quarterfinal Marquee Matchup, a rematch of their high-quality Wimbledon battle won by V. Little 'sis, though, had revenge on the mind and out-ran V for a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7) victory. The thrilling Sunday prime time final saw Serena Williams' powerfully aggressive game defeat Jelena Jankovic's speedy movment and defensive tactics for her third US Open crown, ninth major overall, and the top ranking to boot. And she accomplished all of this without dropping a single set - a spectacular effort.
Jelena Jankovic will no longer have the distinction of being the only lady baller ranked number one to have never reached a Grand Slam final. The Serb escaped an early exit in the second round by scraping past Sofia Arvidsson and was pushed by rising Dane Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round. After defeating gold medalist Elena Dementieva in the semifinals, JJ entered her first major final and handled the occasion in style, well mostly. In true JJ form she performed slides, hit the splits, watched herself on the jumbo screen, wore head-to-toe glitter, and had chances to take the second set but her lack of experience (and soft serve) told the tale of defeat. However, with her focus firmly on fitness (she's now working with Pat Etcheberry), she'll afford herself plenty of chances to earn a major.
The hottest lady baller coming into the US Open was Dinara Safina who reached the French Open final, won the US Open Series by capturing LA and Montreal, and earned the silver medal in Beijing. The emotional rollercoaster she'd been experiencing, though, may have been too much for the young Russian (something about not being a machine, right?) but she still managed to reach the semifinals, her best result at the US Open, where she lost to eventual champ ReRe.
Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva was looking to repeat her 2004 run when she made the finals but was beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova. Many believed her revamped serve, including a relatively low number of doubles, and newfound confidence would be enough to earn Elena her maiden Grand Slam. Although she looked sharp early on and didn't lose a set before the semifinals, the long summer seemed to have caught up with the Russian and she lost two in her defeat to JJ.
Top seeded Ana Ivanovic had a horrendous summer to say the least. After capturing her first major title at Roland Garros, Ana hit the skids hard. She lost early at Wimbledon and Montreal, skipped the Olympics as a result of a nagging thumb injury, and entered the US Open cold. After barely passing the first round, the 20-year old succumbed to 188th ranked Frenchie Julie Coin in the second round. Ana has yet to find the game that has eluded her since Paris, citing lack of practice and match play as the culprits for her recent losses.
Kudos go out to Lindsay Davenport whose time in the tourney was cut short in the third round by Marion Bartoli. Who knows if the 3-time Grand Slammer will return next season but if not, it's been a pleasure watching you Linds - thanks for all the great tennis memories!
(image via Getty)