Monday, 26 January 2015

Serena survives another 3-setter

I predicted a couple of weeks ago that Spain's Garbine Muguruza would finish 2015 in the top ten.  A win over Serena Williams in today's fourth round match at the 2015 Aus Open would go a long way to making that come true.

Serena has been untouchable at times so far in her three matches but there have been some periods of vulnerability and if Garbine could take full advantage of these then her chances of an upset would be reasonable.  She did after all defeat Serena at last year's French Open. Their only other meeting was in 2013 here at Melbourne Park where Serena was the victor, but Garbine has advanced in the tennis world markedly in two years.

This match began slower than the previous in terms of exciting rallies and the like but there were occasional good (even great) shots played and in the fifth game the first break came, surprisingly at the expense of the top seed. Muguruza appeared too slick and placed her shots too cleverly for a slightly slower moving Williams and from 0-40 the damage was done, a down the line pass sealing the game.

Serena was definitely out of sorts and unable to cope with the weight and placement of the groundstrokes from Garbine and it came as no real shock to see a second break in the seventh game, several unforced errors from the Williams racquet.

Serving for the set at 5-2 Garbine was in strife at 0-40 but played inspired tennis to save all break points, one with an ace, before going on to out rally Serena and take the set 6-2.

For the third time in a row Serena needed to win from a set down.

Set two was much better from Serena but not straight away,  she broke Garbine in the second game only to lose her own serve in the next.  At 2-2 questions were being asked about the ability of the number one seed to handle the young powerful hitting Spanish player.  The serve of Serena held a big key and it did assist her as the game score reached 4-3 to Williams.

A break of serve enabled Serena to serve out the set with four huge serves, the first three being aces and the match was a set apiece.

Muguruza survived a testing opening game on serve and led 1-0 in the decider before the longest and most significant game of the match was played out before our eyes. Serena Williams had 6 break points against her and multiple points to win the game but on each occasion deuce would win out. 

Serena finally prevailed and at 1-1 she knew how important that was in the overall picture.  The pressure went onto the Spanish serve and Serena flicked a switch - suddenly break points were available to her as not all of the Muguruza shots were landing in court to the extent they had been.

Serena broke to lead 2-1 and held that edge until Garbine served at 3-4, another game pivotal to the result - should Serena break she would be serving for the match - that she eventually did and Gabine sensed her fate.

No issues on serve for the five time champion as she won through to the quarter final, but overall this was not a simple task 2-6 6-3 6-3

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