Justice Is Served

August 30, 2009 11:47 PM

Serena at No. 2? Open nonsense ...

Serena Williams got a No. 2 seed at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday morning. While a No. 2 seed might sound fair, how can it be fair when Dinara Safina, the player seeded ahead of her, has won nothing of importance.

The collection of insignificant titles that dot Safina’s resume doesn’t add up to one of the 11 Grand Slam trophies Serena Williams has on her mantel. The U.S. Open, however, stuck to its traditional rules of using yearly rankings to seed players, though officials had the prerogative to ignore the rankings.

OK then, tournament officials should have exercised their prerogative. To stick with tradition makes a mockery of the seedings, because nobody who keeps a close eye on women’s tennis can look at Safina and the youngest of the Williams sisters and not see who has the better chance of winning the Open.

For while Safina has titles aplenty this season, her shaky game doesn’t hold together under the intense glare of a Grand Slam, and no Slam venue is as intense as Flushing Meadows.

Her U.S. Open seeding, even with the year she’s having, should have been fifth or sixth, a seeding that put her chances of winning behind both Williams sisters, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva.

No use crying now, not for Serena Williams anyway. She knows that the Open isn’t decided in the seedings, and the path to the title will have obstacles for the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 23 seed to clear.

Never has the women’s field here had a deeper pool of talent. The return of Kim Clijsters, the 2005 U.S. Open champ, and Maria Sharapova, the ’06 U.S. Open champ, leaves capable players everywhere. Any champion will have to avoid this minefield en route to the Finals, and who can guarantee that Serena Williams or Safina can even get to the quarterfinals?

But were I a betting man (well, I guess I am a betting man), I’d put my last dollars on Williams, not on Safina. The flashy Williams has the athleticism, the big-event toughness and the penetrating groundstrokes that are tailor-made for the swift hard courts of Flushing Meadows.

As for Safina, she has her No. 1 ranking and a 0-3 record in Slam Finals. You tell me, is that the mark of a No. 1 seed? Let me answer this for you: No!

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