Top-ranked Serena Williams is defending her title at the W&S Open. Not surprisingly, she’s also a U.S. Open title away from a calendar-year Grand Slam. Right now though she has to defend her title, winning it last year by defeating Ana Ivanovic in straight sets. Can anyone stop her? She has gone 62-3 and won seven titles (including all four Grand Slams) since this time last year, so it’s going well for her. The one person who could have taken Williams off her game mentally was her sister, No. 22 Venus Williams but she withdrew due to sickness. If Williams keeps playing like she has, the title could be in her grasp again.
So far her play has been promising. Yesterday there was a rain delay, but all the top players were in action and many of them avoided upsets that have plagued some of the women’s game of late. And example being Eugenie Bouchard. Williams actually had some trouble in the first set against Tsvetana Pironkova but eventually found her groove, and won 7-5, 6-3.
For most players, this tournament is all about getting ready for the U.S. Open. For Williams that means making history and complete a calendar grand slam. She told press before Wednesday’s matchup, “I’m really trying to stay away from stress and stay away from press. But, you know, that’s a little difficult. I don’t necessarily want to hear about, ‘Oh, this history and that history,’ because I just want to be able to do the best that I can. I want to be able to win and I don’t want any distractions. That’s how I’m going to handle it.”
No. 7 Lucie Safarova and No. 8 Karolina Pliskova also advanced before the rains came on Wednesday, but fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki wasn’t so fortunate. Wozniacki was defeated in straight sets by Victoria Azarenka, who played awesomely.
The win was Azarenka’s fourth over Wozniacki in 2015, and the win got her into the Round of 16, where she’ll face up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated Yaroslava Shvedova to get there. Wozniacki’s failure represented her overall backtracking. Ever since she lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon defeated by Garbine Muguruza, Wozniacki hasn’t been the same nor has she recorded a single win in tournament play. She even got byes in the first round of her last three competitions, but to no avail, Wozniacki was dispatched in straight sets by three straight opponents.
Williams’ has performed better in comparison from her loss to Swiss Belinda Bencic in the Rogers Cup semifinals. Bencic suffered her loss today in a loss to Lucie Sarafova. She was on a winning streak of her own, eight wins all of the highest quality against top players – Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic, Halep, Kerber and Pennetta. She beat Grand Slam champions, Grand Slam finalists, and former Top 10 players, in a run that made headlines worldwide. She backed out on account of a wrist injury and said post-match;
“I just wasn’t 100% today, and to beat Lucie or even compete against her, you need to be 100%. I’m really sorry I had to retire. It was like the first time ever I’ve retired from a match, so it didn’t feel very good. I just hope it will get better and I’m sure I will be fit very soon – now I need to talk with the team and decide what to do.”
It’s pretty obvious that after the initial rounds that there will not be as much intense competition for Williams outside Ivanovic and Azarenka, and that if she continues to stay focused she may just come out on top again.