Despite being one of the dominant nations in women's tennis in the '50s and '60s, Australia just saw Sam Stosur become the first Australian woman to claim a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon in 1980.
Stosur took the US Open title Sunday evening in comfortable fashion against the red-hot favourite and three-time former winner Serena Williams.
Stosur could hardly express emotions after her 6-2, 6-3 victory, which saw her become the third first-time women's Grand Slam champion of the year, following Li Na’s success in the French Open and that of Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon in July.
As is becoming typical of Williams these days, she had a very serious spat with the chair umpire at the beginning of the second set, which ultimately cost her a game. This came after she was already one set down and playing without her usual concentration and provided the stimulus for the 27-year-old Stosur to continue her match dominance. Williams' serving became a major problem for her, particularly in the second set, and her unforced error total of 25—compared to Stosur’s 12—is a strong indication of the gulf between the two players on the day.
Seeded No. 9 for the tournament, Stosur used her powerful baseline game to great effect, which had Williams seemingly forever on the run and who eventually wilted as her fitness began to let her down. Stosur, meanwhile, kept very cool and always looked like she had the edge in both the match strategy and fitness.
Amazingly, this was only the Australian’s third tournament win as a professional but she has been in the upper echelons of the world rankings for the last three years due to her great consistency. She actually made the final at the French Open at Roland Garros in 2010 but was beaten by Italian Francesca Schiavone in straight sets. Her best performance previously at Flushing Meadows came 12 months ago when she made the last eight but lost to Nadia Petrova.
Stosur and Williams had met seven times previously on tour, with Williams holding the edge by four matches to Stosur's three, although one of the Australian’s wins was by walkover at Cincinnati two weeks before the US Open, where she eventually reached the quarterfinals.
The win has rewarded Stosur with a rise up to seventh place in the world rankings, while Williams has moved back in the top 20 to No. 14.
It's been a remarkable year for women's tennis in contrast to the men's game, whilst the world's top four male players continue to dominate their game, again, proven when all four contested the semifinals, the women's game continues to throw up new champions and Stosur is just the latest in a long line of new champions.
Fans of the sport will be hoping for a little more consistency from the best players in the women's game next year, but if the past 12 months are anything to go by, expect a host of new names to emerge in 2012.