x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Veterans are lifting the early trophies in women’s tennis

Serena Williams looks invincible at the top but the other three of the women’s Big Four of 2013 – Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska – have been struggling, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Maria Sharapova of Russia has played five events and 18 matches, and has yet to reach a final. She has slipped to No 9 in the rankings.  Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Maria Sharapova of Russia has played five events and 18 matches, and has yet to reach a final. She has slipped to No 9 in the rankings. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The early promise of an imminent shift at the top of men’s tennis is fading, but it looks distinctly possible on the women’s side.

Serena Williams looks invincible at the top of the rankings, but the other three of the women’s Big Four of 2013 – Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska – have been struggling with form and injuries, and have yet to win a title this year.

Azarenka, who finished 2013 as world No 2, has been battling a foot injury and has played only 10 matches this year, losing three. Sharapova has played five events and 18 matches, and has yet to reach a final. She has slipped to No 9 in the rankings.

Radwanska has been consistent, but unable to step it up, losing twice to Flavia Pennetta (Dubai second round and Indian Wells final) and Dominika Cibulkova (Australian Open semis and Miami quarter-finals).

A change of guard is looming, but it is not the future of women’s tennis coming to the fore. A bit like retro fashion, the tour’s grand oldies are making news.

The three biggest events of the year – the Australian Open and the two Premier Mandatory tournaments – have seen 32-year-old women lift the trophy – Li Na (Australian Open), Pennetta (Indian Wells) and Williams (Miami).

Add 33-year-old Venus Williams’ triumph in Dubai to that list and the WTA winner’s roll for 2014 looks like a club of golden oldies. The way Serena and Li Na are playing at the moment, there is little hope for the younger lot.

arizvi@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE