What a revelation the women’s final turned out to be, writes Tina McCarthy.
First of all, I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief as we realized we had a very competitive final on our hands. With Li Na being the overwhelming favourite and Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova competing in her first Grand Slam final, there was fear of China’s number one player running away with the match.
The first set lasted over an hour, with Li Na unable to serve out at 6-5 and Cibulkova forcing a tie-break. The last four or five games of the first set were highly entertaining and the tie-break, in particular, drew the very best from Li Na as she took it 7-3. She continued to produce irresistible, world-class form and credit to the dogged Cibulkova for running every ball down, but the twice runner-up Li Na was a deserved 7-6(3), 6-0 winner.
But what a breath of fresh air it was to be able to watch a competitive match of very high quality without screaming on the women’s side that was also, most importantly, played in the warmest of spirits. The sporting world is sick of Azarenka, Sharapova and the rest screaming as they hit every ball – be it a spectacular winner or an appalling error into the net. Serena is guilty of grunting too but also her game when it’s bad is really horrid to watch. There is far too much whining and bitchiness from the top three and even unsportsmanlike conduct.
There are snide remarks continuously being thrown around between Serena and Sharapova, and when they play there is barely even a handshake at the end. We all know Azarenka has a healthier on and off court relationship with Serena but that doesn’t make her an angel. Sloane Stephens and Azarenka vengefully fired balls at one another like spoiled brats in their fourth round match at the Australian Open this year.
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova will have won over many fans in the past two weeks. Their on-court attitude and professionalism were no doubt very much welcome by the WTA. It was very nice to see a warm and sincere embrace at the net after the match. Their speeches and how they both conducted themselves during the trophy ceremony was also admirable, congratulating one another in the sincerest manner.
Serena, Azarenka and Sharapova may lead the way in terms of power and ranking points, but not in terms of grace. Li Na will move to number three in the world when the new WTA rankings are released on Monday. Let’s hope her model professionalism will impact on the less gracious players on the women’s side.
Pundit Arena, Tina McCarthy.
Featured Image By Mike McCune from Portland [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.