On a cold night, Venus Williams battled into the early hours of the morning before finally succumbing to the Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 5-7 6-3. In a match that featured so many ebs and flows, twists and turns, and obviously momentum shifts, Williams just couldn't muster up enough of the goods to take down the red hot Slovak.
Williams, having probably the best start to a year since 2010, came into the 2014 Sony Open fresh off her title run in Dubai; she was confident and playing decent tennis this week and things looked to be going well. At the Sony Open, Williams was able to secure the last few seedings which was crucial for someone at her stage in their career; with the secured seeding, Williams avoids a top seed in the opening rounds and gets a first round bye. So after two quality wins, the 2nd round in straight sets and th third round in three tough sets against Dallecqua, Williams looked to continue her momemtum.
As Williams walked on to stadium court at Crandon Park, she looked out of it; Williams looked like something was off and the match hadn't even started. Then, as the match finally kicked off on the blustery and chilly Miami evening, Williams lacked the proper footing, speed, and control to properly try this match.With the cold air, the ball seemed to fly through the air and with the loose nature that Williams strings her racquet, that was a proplem. The ball seemed to float long on too many occasions during the first set and it looked as though it would be a quick night as Cibulkova raced to a 4-0 lead and eventually closed out the first set 6-1.
Things looked to continue the same way as Williams opened by dropping serve, but she somehow found some form and some confidence and managed to break back and hold; she started to gain some kind of strength. There was a look about Williams in the second set, a look of determination, a look of straight dogged-ness. Williams tracked down balls and threw her entire weight into every shot, pummeling the ball and realy forcing the issue. As the set progressed, Williams found herself at break point at the tail end of the set, 5-6 Cibulkova serving under immense pressure and what does Williams do? She rockets a backhand return passed Cibulkova and just like that, a decisive set was upon us.
Unfortunately for the elder stateswoman of the WTA, Williams lost momemtum at the beginning of the final set and found herself down a quick break and eventually a double break at 4-1; Williams had invested so much energy into battling for that middle set that a let down was practically inevitable. Even though Williams managed to give her absolute 100 percent of effort by drawing near in the final set, the deficet was too big and ultimately insurmountable; Cibulkova would eventually finish of the fighting Williams 6-1 5-7 6-3.
It was a match of so much cosmic proportion, and which has been the case this year, a match that Williams should have probably won. But all credit to the Slovak, she played immensely well, especially in the first set.
So where does Venus Williams head from here? Well, she has to take the positives and look to continue to rise up the ranks. Yes, she came in confident after a title run in Dubai; yes, she lost a match she could've won. But all in all, she continued to play decent tennis and she improved her result from last year, so the ranking will continue to rise. Next week she's in Charleston at the Family Circle Cup where she made the semifinals losing to eventually champion little sister Serena Williams. If she can at least match her result there from last year, then there's no reason she can't be seeding at Roland Garros and possibly inside the top 15 by the US Open; Venus has literally no points to defend after the Family Circle Cup, so this is her chance to make a push to get back to the games elite.
Like I stated earlier, for the most part, it was a good tournament for Venus Williams; he should take the positives from the two wins she got and continue moving forward. Continue putting herself in winning positions and eventually things will fall into place for her because she can still hang with these ladies and as she said after her third round win, "I don't think anyone wants to play me or see my name near theres in the draw, so I have that on my side."