Serena Williams Routs Poorly-Contested 2017 Australian Open

Serena defeated her sister Venus Williams on Saturday from Melbourne Park to conclude the women’s draw.

Serena Williams claimed the 23rd Grand Slam title of her career on Saturday from the 2017 Australian Open. She defeated sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the final from Melbourne Park. The result sees Serena eclipse Steffi Graf for most singles majors won. Furthermore, Serena will claim the top ranking once again on Monday, ejecting the slumping Angelique Kerber from top spot after 20 weeks.

When Kerber first made it to the top of the world, back in September, I suggested that the Australian Open would be where her reign would end. If Kerber doesn’t reclaim top spot in the future then her time as the World No. 1 will match that of Kim Clijsters. The German’s reign may be remembered as one where she failed to back up her ranking in any event. She entered seven tournaments and never picked up a title, even though many of the tournaments she entered were small ones.

Many will be taking Serena’s 23rd Grand Slam to mean that she is in fact the greatest ever. But a major statistical counterpoint has not to do with Slam totals, but numberΒ of weeks spent as the top-ranked player. Serena will start adding to her total of 310 weeks, but at present she remains 22 weeks behind Martina Navratilova. Furthermore, Serena is a whopping 67 weeks behind Steffi Graf still, a huge deficit of nearly 20% that an extra Grand Slam title doesn’t really ‘pay’ for.

The women’s 2017 Australian Open will certainly be remembered for producing the all-Williams final. Of the players that had the proven talent to go deep in a major, the Williams sisters were clearly the most motivated. A hapless Kerber herself went out in the fourth round, Caroline Wozniacki brought little to the event, and Simona Halep went out in the first round.

The contenders that emerged in Coco Vandeweghe, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Karolina Pliskova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Johanna Konta proved to be disappointments in their ultimate matches from Melbourne Park. When you factor in the missing players from the event and the likelihood that one or two of them (ie. Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, or Madison Keys) may have made the semifinals had their eligibility or availability permitted it then perhaps a more competitive tournament would have played out.

However, as it went Serena brushed aside a couple early-round dangers in Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova. Nicole Gibbs offered no resistance in the third round and no one emerged later as a threat with Williams taking the entire tournament down in straight sets. Scores of players have done that before, but it would still be interesting to see how many players have done it without actually facing a tiebreaker, something Serena just accomplished.

A fourth-round 7-5, 6-4 result is as close as Williams came to a ‘scare’ at Melbourne Park this season, that score one that Barbora Strycova was able to post in a losing effort. In truth, there were a couple mildly-competitive matches however in the big picture this Grand Slam was an absolute rout for Serena.

Shane Lambert