Formless for seemingly an epoch, women's tennis just picked up some ironclad form this summer.
Now it has a bunch of players with gaudy rankings who cannot touch the No 4 player. Serena Williams has kicked in, and everyone else has been kicked out … to the edges of the picture.
This week, the women start alongside the men in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the build-up to the US Open. The No 1 Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, and the No 2 Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion, have withdrawn.
The No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska, the Wimbledon finalist, is the No 1 seed.
Williams, the Wimbledon champion, is the No 2 seed and the runaway No 1 focus.
The grass season ran late this summer because of the Olympics at Wimbledon, although it could have run later had not Williams finished off her semi-final and final with frightening briskness, the aggregate loss of four games against the women the computer claims as the top two.
The computer has every right to rank her No 4, but this would be one of those times when we humans must rebel against computers and remind them they occasionally go crazy.
The woman veers to the hard courts, the higher bounces and the higher humidity and players might compliments themselves for cobbling even six or seven games off Williams.
No American woman has won this Cincinnati event since Lindsay Davenport in 2004. Good luck to those trying to sustain that drought.
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