Of the five titles on offer at this year’s Australian Open grand slam tennis tournament, Americans won over half of them: women’s singles, women’s doubles and men’s doubles.
Russians? They won exactly zero. Ouch.
Two Chinese female players made the semi-finals. As for the “dominant” Russians? None made it that far. Double ouch.
But the worst news for Russia didn’t come from the USA or China, it came from Belgium, in the person of Justine Henin.
Not only did the unranked, unseeded Henin lay waste to Russia’s best players (thrashing Dementieva, Kleybanova and Petrova with the greatest of ease) on her way to the finals, but in the finals she reminded the world what a really compelling grand slam tennis final looks like.
The world had forgotten, you see, since in Henin’s two-year absence from the sport, what a high-class grand slam final was like, a clash between not just two titanic talents but also two scintillating, compelling personalities. Svetlana Kuznetsova? Yawn. Nadia Petrova? Who? Elena Demenetieva? Uh, if you say so.
The world was reminded of what tennis used to be like before the Russians arrived. You know, exciting, something to look forward to.