Saturday, January 27, 2007

Serena Williams proves them all wrong and wins third Australian Open title

She played only four tournaments last year, and she was defeated by the number 56 player in the world at a warm-up tournament in Hobart, but that didn't stop Serena Williams from fighting her way to the Australian Open final and winning in a manner so stunning, it made viewers' heads spin. New world number 1 Maria Sharapova--whose serve continued to be dismal, as it was throughout the tournament--didn't have a chance. Williams, who committed only eleven unforced errors in two sets, hit clean winners over and over, and ate Sharapova's second serves like Vegemite on a cracker.

Early in the match, Sharapova aimed a ball straight at Williams--a tactical move that paid off, only the ball hit Williams, who uttered "You'll pay for that," and pay for it she did. The only time there has been a more decisive smackdown at the Australian Open women's final was in 1994, when Steffi Graf defeated Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-0, 6-2.

The score of the Williams-Sharapova match actually might have been 6-1, 6-1. When Williams was up 5-1 in the second set and Sharapova served at 40-30, she hit a ball that turned out to be outside the line, though it was called in by the linesperson. The chair umpire did not overrule, and Williams did not bother to challenge the call, though she had challenges left. Had Williams challenged, or had the chair umpire caught the error, the score would have gone to deuce, and Williams might have broken to take the match at 6-1, 6-1.

Coming into the tournament, Williams was ranked number 81 in the world. Those numbers turned around to 18 when she made it to the final, and her win makes her number 14 in the world. She is the lowest-ranked woman ever to win the title, and only the second unseeded player to win in the Open era.

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