Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters Advance

US Open 2010
September 2nd, 2010, by Hiland Doolittle
Venus Williams celebrates her win over Rebecca Marino

Venus Williams celebrates her win over Rebecca Marino

It is impossible to notice how different the 2010 U.S. Open feels. The absence of a clear favorite (Serena) and a very strong contender (Henin) have given hope to mid-level players and a chance to win for a good player who gets a few breaks. As week one winds down, the good players have protected their favored role status well, but there is no question that the presence of the game’s best player has fans and players a bit anxious.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

While the full impact of the tour without Serena Williams is measured, there is now pressure on high seeds to elevate play and arrive with a winner who will forever be known as the winner of the Open when Serena Williams did not play.

That role is probably best suited for Caroline Wozniacki, the number two seed. But, try as she might, Caroline lacks certain physical traits that Serena Williams brings to every match.

The people who put their money where their mounts are, list three former number ones ahead of Wozniacki and there are certainly reasons to share their views.

Clijsters, Venus and Maria Sharapova all looked solid reaching the round of 32 and these ladies know how to win.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium

Kim Clijsters of Belgium

On Wednesday, Kim Clijsters looked like a player with repeat potential. The Belgian’s win at the 2009 Open was one of the biggest shocks as the unranked tour returnee finished off Serena in the semis and then walked over Caroline in the finals.

Seeded third, the top Belgian crushed Australian qualifier Sally Peers 6-2, 6-1 in 68 minutes. Peer was obviously pleased to not only earn her way to the main draw but to win a match. For qualifiers, there are very few opportunities to buck the odds. Clijsters played her favored role to perfection in dominating throughout and working on manuevers she will need in later matches.

Williams had a similar match. Although pressed to a first set tiebreaker, Venus started to find all cylinders in the 7-6 (3), 6-3 win against 6’ Canadian Rebecca Marino, who had never played a top 50 performer before.

Lately, Venus has had trouble with early sets in early matches. This may be the reason she has little championship energy in the finals. To go all the way, Venus needs to sharpen her closing role.

Australian Samantha Stosur, the fifth seed, knows how to close, but she is fast replacing Elena Dementieva as the best player to have never won a Grand Slam.

Stosur has converted her renowned doubles skills to the singles court and has moved up in the rankings by five slots. On Wednesday, Stosur showed Australian Anastasia Rodionova how the game is played by displaying all aspects of an all-court game.

The day’s biggest upset was Argentina’s Gisela Dulko’s win over Victoria Azarenka, who was forced to retire after falling to the court. Victoria was down 1-5 at the time. Number thirteen, Marion Bartoli of France, fell to another Frenchwoman, qualifier Virginnie Razzano in two tough sets 7-5, 6-4.

As expected, Elena Dementieva (12), Shahar Peer (16) and a pair of Italians Flavvia Penmnetta and Francesca Schiavone all advanced.

Ana Ivanovic may not be playing well, but the former number one knows how to compete and what it takes to win a Grand Slam. The talented Serb made it look easy on Wednesday, defeating young Zheng Jie, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour.

American heartbreaker, Melanie Oudin is struggling this season but the 18-year old battled Alona Bondarenko to the bitter end 6-2, 7-5. Melanie has spent this season, her first full-time season, learning what it takes to win on the tour.. What she will be working on this off-season io her serve, which basically leaves her defenseless.


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