Monday, 18 January 2016

Serena's Italian revenge

The last competitive match that Serena Williams played was her losing semi final at the 2015 US Open, and that was to Italian Roberta Vinci.  Today at Rod Laver Arena she would have her chance to avenge the Italian nation by defeating the 35th ranked Italian Camila Giorgi.

And the world number one began in tremendous style, with her serve and ground strokes on song.  She achieved an early break and to the credit of Giorgi, it was the only blemish, with the game score 3-1 in the American's favour.

At 4-2, the surprising heavy serving and general hard hitting from the diminutive Giorgi frustrated Serena who over hit a number of balls and the score moved to 4-3.
The younger Williams was undeterred, and down 0-30 offered up a slow kicker to the ad court and then a familiar ace to the deuce court and followed up with a wicked array of associated shots to clear out to 5-3.

Camila, undeterred, held serve again to give Serena the responsibility of serving the set out.  The Italian was forcing Serena to play some of her best tennis and the crowd was appreciative.  Normally the requirement of Williams in the early rounds is something far less than 100%.

Serena did win the set 6-4 but expectations now were for a second set of closely contested points throughout.

And that was how it progressed for the first few games, Giorgi pressing hard with the advantage of serving first.  Not many break chances surfaced and the confident stroke making from both players developed into what deserved to be more than a round one encounter. Serena levelled at 4-4 and no one was ready to predict how this set would fall.

Despite big serving and a top forehand from Camila, Serena brought it back to break point which Camila bravely saved.  Then huge hitting with risk payed off for the exciting Italian and she led 5-4.

Serena stood firm to no surprise and at 5-5 the pressure turned firmly onto Camila.

A massive forehand return followed by a lucky net cord setting up the next point gave Serena the edge 15-30 and 15-40 came quickly.  Both break points were saved via errant returns, something strange for the greatest player.  Giorgi was calm under the pressure, however unable to save the next break point created by Serena and the number one seed would serve for the match at 6-4 6-5.

A love game with aces ended proceedings and Serena Williams had what she required - a fierce competitive match and a win with many of her best elements on display.

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