Sunday, 12 July 2015

Serena's Sweet Sixth Wimbledon

It may not have been her best tennis match, but when you have set a standard as high as Serena Williams over her illustrious career, anything offered on a tennis court now would be difficult to rate as the best, and after all, winning a Grand Slam tournament is all about defeating your opponent, not necessarily having to play perfect tennis, but the type of tennis for the occasion.

Garbine Muguruza, the 21 year old Spanish player, featuring in her first GS level final, pushed Williams hard, her powerful serve and ground strokes able to match those of the top seed for the first half of the opening set.  Of course, the Sharapova-like donation of 3 double faults in the first game, contributing largely to the ultimate service break, provided just the impetus for Muguruza to race to 4-2 and tantalisingly close to a set lead.

Serena, though, has teased a lot over the past month or so, giving hope to many players at Roland Garros and Wimbledon while trailing by a break, or a set, or both, and then dashing those hopes by emerging from the compromised situations and icing the matches.

Serena switched things up a little after the sixth game, paying more attention to the placement of her own ground strokes, and also requiring more from those of Garbine, who in the eight game stumbled enough to allow the best of her generation (and maybe all time) to achieve the break back for 4-4.

Serena steamed to a 5-4 lead, and Garbine had a game point to level.  Here, the pressure told and a double fault signalled the Williams intervention, the next two points and first set wrapped up by the American.

Serena had grabbed the momentum of the match and ran with it to take a 5-1 advantage in the second, winning the last twelve points to reach that position of dominance.  Serving for the title, Serena stumbled badly, losing the game to love, and a slim ray of light began to shine for Garbine.  Still very much on the edge, not having held serve for some time, the 20th seed did what was required, and after surviving a nervous deuce moment the score line was 5-3 to Williams.

The ninth game of set two was riveting.  Serena double faulted and Garbine then donated a brilliant backhand to the applause of all, including Serena herself.  0-40 came thanks to a splendid off backhand return and the number one had lost her last seven points on serve, all while serving for the title.  

The response?  Save the break points, two with aces, and for good measure throw down another ace to bring up the first championship point.  Surely this would be the moment - Serena had survived the madness and was sealing the deal.

Not so fast said the girl at the other end, as her next withering ground stroke brought it back to deuce and annoyed Serena immensely.  Another break point was negotiated, but Serena failed to deal with the fifth of the game and thanks to another forehand winner Muguruza had sensationally broken back again for 4-5 with the chance to level the set.

Sadly a double fault and an unlucky net cord conspired against Garbine and from 0-30 she contributed two more errors to conclude proceedings.  Serena had become Wimbledon Queen for the sixth time, her 21st Grand Slam Singles triumph. 6-4 6-4.  Not much more can be said about the astonishing Serena Williams when words become inadequate.

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