Saturday, November 19, 2005

WTA Tour Year In Review

Best Women's Tennis Matches of the Year

  1. 2005 Wimbledon Final. V. Williams d. L. Davenport 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7.
    This was a match they will be talking about for years. Venus Williams was the #14 seed and had not been in a Grand Slam final for two years and and had not won a major title for neary four years. Although she had previously shown signs of her previous overpowering form against Pierce and Sharapova (see Match #3 on this list) almost no one felt that she could sustain the effort against the World's #1. Davenport served for the match twice and held two match points, which Venus erased by hitting winners. Eventually, after 2 hours and 45 minutes, in the longest Women's Wimbledon Final ever, Venus was the last woman standing, and she bounced around Centre Court with barely contained glee.
  2. 2005 WTA Tour Championship Final. A. Mauresmo d. M. Pierce 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4.
    A breakthrough win for Mauresmo at last in a very important match for her. As I commented extensively earlier about this match, this could be the breakthrough which could propel her to finally live up to her full potential at a Grand Slam. It will be interesting to see the impact of this match on her 2006 results.
  3. 2005 Wimbledon Semi-final. V. Williams d. M. Sharapova 7-6(2), 6-1.
    This is the match that made a believer out of me that Venus Williams could win a major tournament again. In the previous round she had dispatched a resurgent Mary Pierce in straight sets serving incredibly well at 84%. The level of play and the level of shrieking was incredibly high. Both players were moving incredibly well and hitting the ball powerfully and with pin-point accuracy. Sharapova had recently grown a few inches and was not moving as well as Venus whose footwork and foot speed were breathtaking. On the important points (like in the tiebreak in the first set) Venus went to another level and usually won the point with a winner. In the second set, Sharapova was discouraged and error-prone and Venus was able to race to an early lead and close out the match.
  4. 2005 Australian Open Semi-final. S. Williams d. M. Sharapova 2-6, 7-5, 8-6.
    Somehow, staring at defeat two match points down at 2-6, 4-5, 15-40 Serena was able to continue to still go for her shots and hit balls deep into the court and aim for the lines. As the rest of the year would show, Serena basically muscled and clawed her way to a victory in this match through sheer will (and a flawless second serve). This was the real Australian Open 2005 final, since Lindsay just ran out of gas against Serena a few days later.
  5. 2005 Indian Wells Semi-final. L. Davenport d. M. Sharapova 6-0, 6-0.
    I was in the audience to see this one-sided drubbing of the then-reigning Wimbledon champion. What was weird was that Lindsay wasn't playing amazing tennis or anything. She was hitting her typical deep, powerful groundstrokes but Sharapova could not keep a ball in the court and her much-vaunted serve was nowhere to be seen. The reason why this match is on the list is the amazing result that a match could be so one-sided, "double bagel" no less, between two players so close (and so high) in rank. If someone knows about an equivalent blowout between players ranked so high, I'd like to hear about it. (The 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Pierce by Justine Henin-Hardenne at the 2005 French Open final doesn't count since neither woman was close to #1 in the world at the time.)
There are probably more than these five, but these are the women's matches that are the most memorable for me in 2005.

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