Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Serena Loses Match, No. 1 Ranking

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Serena Williams’ game collapsed after she swept the first set Wednesday, leading to a 0-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss to China’s Li Na that will cost her the No. 1 ranking.

By dropping the second-round match at the Porsche Grand Prix, Williams will be overtaken by Jelena Jankovic in Monday’s new rankings, the WTA said. Williams gained the top spot when she beat Jankovic in the U.S. Open final three weeks ago for her ninth Grand Slam title.

Jankovic plays her first match in the tournament Thursday against Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine.

“Obviously, I want to be No. 1 but I am not focusing on that. I am focusing on winning titles and that goes hand in hand (with getting No. 1),” Williams said.

“I am not worried. It will come again if I win tournaments. I play to win titles and Grand Slams, although obviously the No. 1 is also on my mind.”

Williams was playing her first match since the U.S. Open, getting a first-round bye in Stuttgart. She rolled through the first set and appeared headed for a resounding victory.

“I started making a lot of errors and I just gave it to her,” she said. “Maybe I started doubting myself.”

Li, ranked No. 30, said she was so nervous at the start of the match her hands were cold.

“I didn’t have a chance in the first set,” Li said. “But I looked at the clock and I saw it was only 20 minutes (into the match) so I told myself I could be winning in an hour. I knew I just had to hang in there.”

Li also beat sister Venus Williams to reach the semifinals at the Beijing Olympics. Venus Williams is still in the Stuttgart tournament and watched Serena’s defeat.

Li wasted three match points at 5-3, then fell behind 0-40 in her next service game after Williams had held for 5-4. She then put in a service winner and followed with an ace. After successfully challenging a call that her serve was out to get it to deuce, she clinched the match with her third ace of the game.

Li missed 11 months with a rib fracture last year and right-knee surgery in March.

“I believe I can go into the top 10 if I stay healthy,” she said.



That's about all I have to say today.


Savannah said...

I saw the second set and most of the third. I don't know how Serena played the first set but in the second set Li Na seems to have decided she wasn't having it.

I never dismissed Li Na as a speed bump on Serena's roll to the final. Players who are literally on one leg suck it up and play the matches of their lives against either Serena or her sister just to say they won against them or pushed them to their limits. Usually they lose in the next round.

Serena was listless and seemed surprised at the way Li was playing. Li's returns literally pushed Serena back on her heels and she got almost everything Serena sent over the net back.

That Serena was listless was surprising because I haven't seen her this fit in years. Years!

dapxin said...

I didn't see the game.

It was a shocking result. For a player like Serena, I mean it is something akin to an unexpected terror attack. Now, time to prepare for the worst & expect it can actually happen...speaking SerenaWise... :(

tangerine said...

That's a terrible loss for Serena. I'm annoyed now because once again the girls are playing hot potato with the number one ranking. It makes WTA look like such a joke. What kind of champions are these? It's such a different story on the men's side. Can you imagine Roger and Rafa doing this?

Roger: 'Here, Rafa, I'm bored, I don't want the number one ranking anymore, you take it.'

Rafa: "Oh no Roger you are the true world number one, you have it."

Roger: 'No Rafa I insist, I am not worthy anymore, I have mono.'

Rafa: "If I am number one then I will be the favorite and I don't want that kind of pression. Let's give it to Novak."

Novak: "I don't want it either! I want the crowds to love me, not hate me for being number one. Give it to Andy."

Andy: "No way. I'm focused on winning Houston."

Back to Serena: something about Li Na rubs me the wrong way. I don't find her game impressive at all so it always irks me when she flukes a win over a good player. Watch her lose in the next round now.

oddman said...


hcfoo said...

I really thought it's going to be an easy match for Serena after bagels Li Na in the first set.

Quite disappointing as I wanted Serena to hang on to the no. 1 spot till end of the year.

Anyway I expect to see more great matches here at Stuttgart especially from Safina, Dementieva, Venus and probably Li Na.

Karen said...

Hello everyone. Li Na is the David Nalbandian of the WTA tour. People like these are always either out with injury in the beginning of the season or under perform during the year and then come race points time they are just eating up points left and right. She will perhaps make it past the next round, but will not win the tournament.
Being NO. 1 is not a great priority for Ms. Williams right now. She knows what it takes to be No. 1 and hold on to that spot. As soon as she gets it the right way, watch how she holds on to it. Go back and look at the youtube video where they tell her she is now No. 1. She is like, really, oh well. Right now it is about winning titles and Grand Slams for Serena. Not rankings. That she already has and like she says when she does get it, it will be gravy.

Oryem said...

Um i thought winning the Us Open was getting the ranking the right way, Karen? Anyway we'll see how it all unfolds in the coming weeks. Let me just say I'm not underestimating or overestimating anyone's chances.

Craig Hickman said...

Serena does look good as hell in that picture.

mznblue said...

I agree, Karen. After reading Serena's post-match comments yesterday, her own words echo your sentiment. Serena's main goal now is getting better and winning tournaments, the ranking is extra.

I just read Venus and Serena have withdrawn from doubles because Serena is injured. I would have liked for Serena to win this tournament, but above all, I want her healthy and not injured or tired from chasing a ranking that at the end of the day, is not all that important for her legacy.

Karen said...

Oryem, I remember I posted elsewhere that when Serena found out she was No. 1 the look on her face was like "oh crap, did not mean for that to happen". She wants the No. 1 ranking but on her own terms. I think Serena feels like when she does get the No. 1 ranking the other women on tour will have to kill themselves to catch her. She is not there yet. Since AO 07 we have seen a committed Serena. She has been training, losing the weight and become more focused. Yesterday's match was a blip, but I believe that she will come out fighting in Moscow. Withdrawing from doubles may have been preventative rather than a serious injury.

Oryem said...

That makes sense Karen. Craig- i was disappointed that she lost when she was dressed so nice. I thought she only loses in (sorry but) ugly outfits a la the French Open. Guess i'll have to re-evaluate that theory.

brooklyn1006 said...

What a great pic of Serena! She looks sexy hot...and that's the best kind of sexy when you're not even trying.

lapidus48 said...

savanna:"That Serena was listless was surprising because I haven't seen her this fit in years. Years!"

Happy to say, I agree: Serena, during Wimby, the USopen and now this tournament looks great and the all black nike outfit she's shown wearing in the above photo is the best outfit she's worn since her Puma days [Nike, of course, generally sucks]

I wouldn't worry about this loss--you'd expect a slam champion to be flat in this day and age immediately after successfully navigating a fortnight of high intensity competition. There are athletes these days; no cupcakes prancing around as filler for a champ to snack on.

lapidus48 said...

Serena should get beyond this loss with the idea of maintaining her fitness and ramping up her focus just a notch. She'll be fine.

lapidus48 said...

Once again, I've got to say that Serena looks extremely fit in the black Nike outfit. Again, it rivals the best Puma outfits worn in her heyday.