Mats' Musings: Serena rises to the Grand occasion – again

Editor's note: Former world No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander is writing exclusively for Yahoo! Sports throughout the U.S. Open. The 1988 U.S. Open champ will break down who's hot and who's not, offering his thoughts courtesy of Lacoste.

They may as well hand over the U.S. Open women's singles trophy right now, because I can see no way that Serena Williams can be beaten at this event.

The younger Williams sister looks in better form than I have ever seen her before, and there's simply no other player in the game who can get past her when she is in this kind of mood.

Serena has been criticized for her poor performances in smaller events, but you have to try to understand her mindset:

She is a champion, the sort of player who lives for the big moments such as those provided at Grand Slams. Any other occasion is unable to ignite her competitive fire. When the big crowds are out in force and the pressure is on, Williams responds better than any other woman.

Give her the option of playing in front of a packed stadium and she would take it every time. I sense some of the other leading women get unnerved by a big audience.

Winning Grand Slams is not just about technique and tactics; the mental side of the game comes into play constantly. And it is Serena's superior attitude and mentality that have enabled her to claim 11 Slam titles so far.

Expect her to add No. 12 next Saturday.

Check back over the next few days as I continue my analysis heading into the second week of the U.S. Open.

Below is my list of favorites in the women's draw, with a predictable figure in top spot.


1. Serena Williams: Too good and too strong, she can't be beaten.

2. Venus Williams: Starting to grow in confidence after a shaky start.

3. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Quietly making her way through the door and game looks good.

4. Dinara Safina: Too many unforced errors are disrupting her challenge.

5. Melanie Oudin: Brilliant fighter is so much fun to watch.

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