- Not sure I know anybody who picked Samantha Stosur
of Australia to win the U.S. Open title, particularly against Serena Williams
, three-time U.S. Open champ and heavy favorite to win it all. But I must say, I was totally impressed with Stosur's game, focus and her strategy! The 27-year-old Stosur stuck to her game plan and was able to silence Serena, 6-2, 6-3, in a match that was marred in controversy.
As great as Stosur played and as much as Serena credited her opponent's fine play after the match, this final will unfortunately be remembered for another Serena tirade on the court, this time against the chair umpire!
Sound familiar? Two years ago at the U.S. Open, Serena threatened to "shove a ball down the throat" of a line judge in her semi-final match against Kim Clijsters
. With Serena serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, Serena missed her first serve and her second serve was called for a foot fault, which at 15-40, put Clijsters one point from victory. Serena cursed at the line judge. The chair umpire gave her a point penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior. It happened that the point penalty was match point. Clijsters won. Serena went home runner-up. She was injured last year so did not play the U.S. Open and this year, she came back from injury, looking as strong and hungry as ever to win her fourth U.S. Open title.
But Stosur outplayed Serena, winner of 13 Grand Slam Titles! She took the first set 6-2 and then in the beginning of the second set, it seemed like 'déjà vu all over again' as far as Serena 'losing' her cool. In the first game in the second set with Serena serving, Serena yelled "come on" after she made a good shot. The problem was, she yelled before the point was over and Stosur may have thought Serena was calling the ball 'out.' The chair umpire invoked the 'intentional hindrance rule," and awarded the point, which was a break point on Serena's serve, to Stosur which gave the first game to Stosur. The 'call' so angered Serena, she unleashed a tirade at the chair umpire which continued during the change-over. In fact, for a moment there, Serena thought the chair umpire was the same umpire as the one who called her 2009 U.S. Open semifinal match against Clijsters. (That was not the case).
Some of Serena's tirade toward the chair umpire was caught by the cameras. Serena said, "If I ever see you walking down the hall, you better look the other way. You are so unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? Giving me a code violation because I expressed my anger? We're in America!"
Most thought Serena's anger would pump up her own game but Stosur did an excellent job in handling the distraction and staying focused.
Drama aside, Stosur's serve was 'on' while Serena struggled with her serve. Stosur was able to put pressure on Serena every time she missed a first serve. Stosur said she "Hit the right spots at the right time and tried to vary it as much as I could. Serena did not get a clean hit on a lot of my balls and as soon as I had an opportunity to go for winners, I did it."
Regarding what Stosur thought about the ruling which gave her the game on break point, "The rules of tennis are there for a reason and the umpire made the call that she felt is right. I can't remember the whole point. Everything happens so fast with the crowd and the noise."
After the match, Serena admitted that she was not familiar with the rule. In her post match interview, she seemed to have amnesia about the entire tirade saying that it was another "caught up in the heat of the moment" experience. That sounds familiar as it was the same excuse she used when she lost her temper during the Clijsters match. Serena did say that "when you are an athlete, we train all of our lives, since I was three, we live for these moments and everyone lives to be in the final of Wimbledon or in the U.S. Open, hopefully I'll be back here next year. We all as athletes give 2,000 percent. I do every time."
That excuse didn't work two years ago and doesn't work this time either. And with Stosur already up a set, she continued to play lights out, not letting the interruption and the crowd reaction distract her.
Welcome to the Grand Slam Championship club, Stosur. You're a much welcomed new member!
Ann hosts her weekly WFAN Radio radio show every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., heard in the Hamptons on WPPB 88.3 FM. www.annliguori.com