Greetings tennis-crazed hooligans,
Man, what a week it has been so far. I for one, did not see this coming. How about you? I guess I was just too myopic to get my head wrapped around the idea of Kim Clijsters making the WTA's top-20 look like a bunch of, well, a bunch of wildcards. I guess it's better than making them look like a bunch of lucky losers though. And now that she's got her Belgian jaws locked on some Grand-Slam winning top-10 flesh and bones, who knows how this improbable tale might end.
Rarely if ever do our wildest dreams come true in life, but this week at the Western and Southern Financial Group Women's Open, we have been given a taste of just how wonderful life can be. Of course, we knew that Clijsters had it in her, and we knew that she was still young. But we didn't know she had THIS MUCH in her, or that she would play this well.
But she has, and she's left signs of wreckage strewn about the Cincinnati hard courts for all to see. First it was the WTA's No. 13 Marion Bartoli, fresh off her stunning victory over Venus Williams at The Bank of the West Classic. Clijsters had her struggles in the match, but in the end when she saved 8 of the 10 break points she faced, it looked as if she'd been playing tough points in big matches for the last 27 months.
Next was No. 20 Patty Schnyder, who got served a bagel in the 2nd set. Kim seemed to shake off whatever rust that might have been clinging to her motherly frame in this breeze of a match.
And now today, the biggest and greatest surprise thus far: French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has ran into the bullet train also known as Kimpossible. That bullet trains next stop appears to Safina station.
And won't that be a perfect storm for those who've chosen, instead of relishing in the power and glory of Kimpossible's impossible comeback, to use this as another excuse to bash the WTA for it's lack of depth in the higher rankings?
After Safina defeated Shuai Peng of China this evening, the stage is now set for a heavily anticipated Clijsters-Safina duel tomorrow. It's a win-win for Clijsters who has won all our hearts this week regardless of the outcome, but for Safina, it's a small win- big lose situation.
If there ever was a chance for Safina make a claim for her legitimacy, this would be the perfect opportunity. Why the No. 1 player in the world should have to make claims for her legitimacy is another and more convoluted story entirely. Marat's baby sister has been the object of much undeserved derision since she climbed into the top spot in the rankings without ever winning a grand-slam. Week after week she's been forced to endure constant inquiries about whether she feels she deserves the ranking. Unfortunately for Safina, she's become known more for what she hasn't achieved than what she has achieved.
And it will get worse if she becomes the next speed bump beneath Kimpossible's tennis shoes. Not only will Safina's legitimacy be in question, but many uneducated pessimists will feel that the legitimacy of the whole tour will be in question. Of course they'll be missing the point in doing so — the real story here is the amazing play of Clijsters. If it happens that Safina is the one to finally take her down, then Safina should be given credit for beating a tennis player who has been on fire all week and is clearly inspired. And if the wild ride continues for Clijsters, then we should be rejoicing in her amazing return to the game instead of asserting the ineptitude of the players that she is defeating.
Either way you slice it, Kimpossible's return is a win-win for women's tennis. Too bad it couldn't be the same for Safina, whose steadily improvement and dogged enthusiasm for the sport shouldn't be worthy of anything but praise.