Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Serena puts Ash to Ashes

The final match for Rod Laver Arena for the 13 January 2014 featured number one seed Serena Williams against Australian teenager Ash Barty.  Already, the match had been decided in everyone's opinion - the question being asked was: what result in losing would be judged as acceptable for Barty?

The draw was harsh many were saying - "poor thing" patronised not a few, forgetting quickly that players of Barty's age in the not so distant past have performed amazing feats at this venue.  She should have gone into this match with expectations of winning, and I trust that she did, ignoring the good wishes of those hoping that she might win a few games just to say she passed the test.

Barty began with authority and despite Serena's none too subtle attempts to intimidate (fairly mind you) held her nerve and serve to lead 1-0.  At least she could place that fact on her resume. "Led 17 times Grand Slam title winner in 2014 Australian Open for a period of time"

Serena was a little out of sorts for about five to ten minutes before she put her skates on and rode roughshod over the top of the Australian, breaking her serve in the third game to lead 2-1 which became 3-1 soon enough once the Williams serve clicked into a higher gear (still saving the top gears and overdrive for a later time).

The pace with which Serena moves around the court and even before that with which she makes decisions - in almost all cases the correct ones - is breathtaking to witness, if not all that surprising anymore.  Only one service break separated the two players, but the gulf was in reality massive and starkly so; Ash needed her pretty handy first serve to be reliable and it just let her down too often and on critical occasions, placing unwarranted pressure on her second serve which Serena took great delight in beating to a pulp.

Another break of serve and the set was over as a contest - the scoreline read 6-2 but that didn't show the scars worn by Barty from the hammering dished out by the worlds best female player.

Ash wasn't troubling Serena, only that the American would have preferred being back in her motel room right now.  She also wasn't troubling the scorer for much of set number two, of which Serena took immediate ownership.  Ash struggled along without anything to show for true effort until the fifth game which annoyingly for Serena, rolled the right way for the Australian, and she only trailed 1-4.

Enough of that thought the top seed who cruised through the next phase of tennis and won the match 6-2 6-1

Most pundits thought that Barty performed admirably under the circumstances but I think they cut her too much slack.  She has played far better than that and her inconsistency contributed a great deal to the final result.

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