RTS Update: Serena, Spring Blossom?
Published March 31, 2014 12:14
Serena Williams burst into the top eight on the Road To Singapore leaderboard on Monday after winning the Premier Mandatory-level Sony Open Tennis in Miami, going from ninth place to fourth place in the year-long journey to qualify for the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Championships.
Like the last two years, Williams seems to be blossoming in the spring. She won Brisbane in the first week of the year, but fell early by her standards at her last two events, the Aussie Open and Dubai.
Her total domination of the tour in 2012 and 2013 also started around the Miami-Charleston stretch.
"The past is the past," Williams said. "There was really nothing I could do in Australia - I tried the best I could on that day, but it just wasn't my day. I'm just glad I've been able to improve since then.
"And even here in in Miami, I didn't think I would win given the way I was playing in the beginning of the week - but if you just keep fighting to try and live for another day, you can always improve."
Williams wasn't the only player who made a big move on the Road To Singapore leaderboard. Maria Sharapova, who was stuck down in 20th place after a subpar first few months of the season, soared up to ninth place after making it all the way to the semifinals, where she would fall to Williams.
And Sharapova echoed the same theme Williams talked about - it's better late than never.
"I didn't have a great week in Indian Wells - I think I played poorly, to say the least. And I didn't start off well here, either. But as the tournament progressed, I know I started regaining my form, and then playing and winning three set matches, which I haven't done in a long time, was very important for myself and my shoulder, just to see that I was able to find that strength deep in the third set.
"It's a long year with many tournaments ahead, and those are the things I want to keep looking for."
Another former No.1 - Venus Williams - moved from 16th to 13th after reaching the fourth round.
"The year is still really, really new, but every tournament I've played I've played well, I think," Williams said. "So I just want to keep getting better as the year progresses. I know that I can do it."
Meanwhile, another former No.1 made a big move on the Road To Singapore doubles leaderboard. After a breakthrough fortnight that brought them their first title together in Miami, Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki soared into ninth - and with eight teams going to Singapore, that's a critical move.
Hingis was asked in her post-match press conference after the final how much the pair will play now.
"Well, I think two weeks ago if you asked me that question, it would probably be a completely different answer from today!" she said. "Last week, I was like, 'I'm not sure if I want to put myself out there like this and lose first, second round. But now, after this victory, definitely things have changed.
"I would be very happy to continue to play some more doubles."