Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2014 Contents A65
Saturday, August 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
NEW YORK---Serena Williams
stopped hiding from history and
started making more of it.
Up until a couple of years ago, she
practically plugged her ears at any
mention of records or firsts. Now
she says it out loud: Coming into
the US Open, her next goal is match-
ing two tennis greats for the sec-
ond-most major titles in the Open
era with 18.
"Obviously just getting closer to
tying with Chris (Evert) and Martina
(Navratilova)," she said.
Then she added: "But been doing
that all year and still hasn t hap-
pened. Not going to stress out about
Williams has been stuck on 17
since winning the US Open a year
ago. When she started working with
coach Patrick Mouratoglou in mid-
2012, he urged her to embrace the
record chase. Williams went on to
capture four of the next six Grand
Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal
and two straight WTA Champi-
onships in a scintillating 16-month
But in the first three major tour-
naments of 2014, she didn t even
make the quarterfinals. Her last
appearance on the Grand Slam stage
took a bizarre turn when an out-of-
sorts Williams pulled out of a Wim-
bledon doubles match, blaming a
Evert, for one, figured she d be
looking up at Williams by now. Or
that maybe Williams would be chas-
ing Steffi Graf s Open-era record of
22 major titles.
Evert won her 18th and final major
title at 31, the same age Williams
was when she played at Flushing
Meadows in 2013. Motivation gets
harder with time because of the
mental fatigue season after season.
"You just are not as fresh," Evert
said. "Some days you just don t want
to get out of bed."
For all that, Williams still has to
rate as the heavy favourite at Flushing
Meadows when the year s last major
tournament starts Monday. She s
seeking to join Evert as the only
women to win three straight titles
here in the Open era, which began
Williams is seeded No 1 in New
York for just the third time, a sur-
prisingly low number for someone
who has been the world s top-ranked
player for 204 weeks in her career.
The two previous times, she won
Williams five titles in 2014 are
the most on the WTA tour; nobody
else has more than three. Over the
last seven Grand Slam events, the
five titles not won by Williams went
to five different players, and two of
them won t be at Flushing Meadows:
the retired Marion Bartoli and the
injured Li Na.
Five-time major champ Maria
Sharapova makes by far the best case
to fill the void, but she hasn t looked
that sharp since winning her second
French Open title in June.
Petra Kvitova is coming off her
victory at Wimbledon, but she s
always struggled at Flushing Mead-
ows---never even reaching the quar-
terfinals. After her first Wimbledon
title in 2011, she promptly lost in
the first round at the US Open.
And Victoria Azarenka, the run-
ner-up to Williams the last two
years, has been stymied by injuries
This state of affairs isn t too
uncommon on the women s side in
recent years. What s unusual is that
the men s draw looks a bit similar.
With Rafael Nadal unable to defend
his title because of a wrist injury,
the top players come in uncharac-
After winning Wimbledon and
getting married, top-seeded Novak
Djokovic was, in his own words,
"emotionally a little bit flat" in losing
early in two hard-court tournaments.
"I was a bit slow, I have to say,
to get into the competition mode,"
Djokovic said. "It was a very unique
five, six weeks that I had with the
wedding and winning Wimbledon
and getting back to No 1 in the world.
I couldn t ask for more. I was
extremely fulfilled and happy with
where I am in my life."
Meanwhile, Andy Murray has
yet to rediscover his championship
form after back surgery. Perhaps
this is 33-year-old Roger Federer s
last, best chance to win another
For more than two years, he s been
stuck on No 17---a number Williams
is also all too familiar with.
Serena chasing major title No 18
Serena Williams could become the
first woman in nearly 40 years to
win three consecutive US Opens, but
she has not been past the fourth
round at a major in 2014. AP PHOTO
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