Fight for No. 1 spot adds to US Open buzz
Our columnist tells SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ that there is added buzz at the US Open as Serena tries to cling on to No. 1 ranking
The last Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, wraps up next week, and it's been an interesting tournament so far.
For one, Serena Williams is on the verge of surpassing Steffi Graf's 25-year-old record of 186 consecutive weeks as world No. 1.
I think we can all agree Serena is one of the greatest athletes - not just female - of all time, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if she sets another mark.
She entered the US Open as the world's No. 1 player, a title she has held since Feb 18, 2013, and that's incredible.
Serena holds a 190-point advantage over No. 2 Angelique Kerber and she'll retain the No. 1 spot if she wins her sixth US Open crown.
If Serena meets Kerber in the final, they'll be playing not just for the title but also for the World No. 1 ranking.
So, it's very exciting, and it's great to see there is such a tight race for the World No. 1 spot that we have not seen in the last few years.
There's so much depth in women's tennis today and competition among the players is stiff, with a whole group of players now challenging Serena.
Kerber is closing in on Serena's No. 1 ranking, and last year's WTA Finals champion Agnieszka Radwanska is also in a position to do that if she makes the final.
To have multiple players in a position to take over as the world's top-ranked player is something that hasn't happened for a long time.
Meanwhile, there has been a lot of attention on world No. 3 and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza at the US Open after she lost to Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia in the second round.
Often, when a young player has great success, it really changes the expectations that are placed on them. Then there is also the pressure they place on themselves.
It's normal that people are excited to see how a young player like Muguruza performs, especially after winning a Grand Slam.
The Spaniard is only 22. She's proven that she's an outstanding player, and I believe she will continue to focus on her game and stay in the moment.
From my days as a player and a coach, I found it's always good to remind yourself that there are always going to be ups and downs in sport, but the key is to stay in the present.
I'm absolutely sure Muguruza has many good years ahead of her.
Just take a look at 21-year-old Madison Keys, who is currently ranked eighth and in the running to make her debut at the WTA Finals in Singapore next month.
She reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year, before she even turned 20, and sometimes it takes a while to adjust to this type of success.
Keys has exceptional talent and she's had really great results over the last two years, but she's stringing them together even better this year.
Even Serena, when asked about her last year, said Keys can go very far, saying that she had the potential to be World No. 1 and win Grand Slams.
What Keys is focusing on now is herself and her game, instead of results, and it's only a matter of time before she makes a big breakthrough.
*Canadian Melissa Pine is a former NCAA player and a columnist for The New Paper. She is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and also the tournament director of the WTA Finals. Held in Singapore from 2014 to 2018, the 10-day tennis extravaganza showcases the world's top-eight singles players and doubles teams competing for a grand prize of US$7 million ($9.6m). For more information on the event, visit www.wtafinals.com
BY THE NUMBERS
186 weeks: Serena Williams (above, left) is on the verge of surpassing Steffi Graf's record of 186 consecutive weeks as world No. 1. But Angelique Kerber (above, right) and Agnieszka Radwanska could end her run at the US Open.