Again, those who have written off the WTA this season haven’t been paying attention. Sunday saw the triumphal end (almost*) to this year’s women’s tour, with Kim Clijsters battling past World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the finals of the WTA Championships in Doha: 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. This was Kim’s third year-end triumph, having won it in both 2002 and 2003.
Tennis Channel commentator Lindsay Davenport called it one of the best matches of the year. It was – add it to a list of about ten others.
“It seemed like it was never going to end,” Kim Clijsters joked at the end of the match. She was getting at what I like about Caroline Wozniacki – she’s so consistent and so resilient that she pushes the very best players to play, well, their very best.
Kim’s comment also reminds me of what the real problem is for both the ATP and WTA tours: they go on too damn long. Even I’ve found my interest flagging throughout the year. The Paris Indoors, the Malaysian Open, frigging Bali* – it’s just not possible for the average super-fan to stay engaged week in and week out. The number of tournaments waters down their individual significance and leads to a jaded “eh, I’ll catch Woz next Sunday,” kind of feeling. Of course, having the Williams sisters, Sharapova and Justine Henin out or under-achieving for so much of the season contributes to the feeling that there’s something lacking.
But their absence has also allowed for players like Schiavone, Stosur and Wozniacki to shine at the top of the rankings. Along with Clijsters, who played and won just enough to feel like the “real No. 1” this season, these gals showcase remarkable variety, grit and likability. They don’t have the kind of iconic stature of say, a Maria or Serena, but they’re a pleasure to watch. And that element of pleasure has been missing from the women’s game for a couple years. I’m optimistic that 2011 will be even better.
“I gave my all today.” Wozniacki admitted after the final in Doha (via the Miami Herald). “I couldn’t have played better.”
What more can we ask?
Another great development in 2010 – the rise of the glamourous doubles pairing of Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta. The fun-loving friends and tournament top seeds took out the No. 2 seeded pairing of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, 7-5, 6-4, to clinch the doubles title in Doha. Neither Gisela nor Flavia had ever played in the year ending championships before. This victory makes them the top doubles team in the rankings. Gisela has clinched the #1 individual dubs ranking and Flavia is at #2.