Saturday, 28 January 2017

Aus Open No. 7 for Serena !

Williams Night had arrived at the 2017 Australian Open and it coincided with the Women's Singles Final for the first time since 2003.  Of course way back then the final was played in the daytime - now it deservedly is a prime time event on the Melbourne sporting calendar.

Second seed Serena Williams makes a habit of booking one of the spots in Grand Slam singles finals, but winning them has become less frequent of late, a "mere" Wimbledon trophy her spoils from 2016.
For thirteenth seed Venus this final is particularly special, for at 36 the achievement realistically was slipping away as a possibility.  

A Serena win would be her 23rd major, surpassing Steffi Graf;  a Venus success would be number 8 and her first Aus Open.

Venus defeated unseeded Coco Vandeweghe in a tough three set semi - Serena had it far easier in eliminating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni for the loss of only 3 games.

Venus won the toss and served.  Two wide Venus backhands then an ace.  A backhand return winner and two break points.  A brilliant forehand passing shot from Serena for the break. 1-0.   Serena continued forcing the pace and two more Venus errors resulted.  A double fault made it 30-15.  A great Venus backhand drew a Serena mistake before an ace gave her game point.  Saved after some brutal backhands were exchanged.  Break point with a Serena shot wide.  A long forehand and the break back 1-1.

Venus saved one break point with a deep approach finished with a volley at the net, she saved a second with a slashing backhand down the line, but the net prevented the saving of a third. Serena broke again for 2-1 as well as destroying her first racquet for the evening.  Serena then threw away a chance to hold serve with three double faults after having game point. 2-2.

Serena was in a bad patch missing regularly, mostly long, and Venus was collecting the trash.  She held, simply by keeping the ball in court, leading 3-2.  
At 0-30 Serena was well down but an ace seemed to click her into action.  She proceeded to hold serve, and then a marvellous drop shot and backhand winner broke the Venus serve and Serena had a 4-3 advantage.

Serena escaped from 0-30 again, the ace and forehand her reliable saviours. 5-3.
A Venus backhand and two service winners won her the next game from a precarious 15-30, and forced her sister to serve for the set.

Forehand down the line 15-0.  Venus backhand wide 30-0.  Ace and three set points.  Another ace and the set 6-4.  That was the complete Serena - until now it had only been glimpses on display, mostly due to the pressure exerted by her older sister.

Set two began with Venus serving again.  Confident game including an ace and backhand winner 1-0.  Serena responded as expected with big deliveries 1-1.
Double fault on top of a Serena forehand winner and three break points.  Two good serves saved two and a forehand put away the third.  2-1 Venus and that was a terrific critical game to save.

A double fault didn't prevent Serena holding for 2-2.  Venus started with a winner and ended with an ace for 3-2.  Scores became tied after a pretty nondescript game where Serena served enough balls that went into play.

15-30 after a backhand return winner.  A Venus ace the perfect reply.  The point of the match ended with a Venus forehand flying wide and break point.  A backhand return from Serena found the net but her next forehand return was a winner and a second break point arose.  Saved with a good serve.  A third break chance was taken when Serena pulled out a killer backhand return winner off a Venus second serve.
4-3 Williams the younger.

Service winner, ace, service winner, netted return.  5-3 in just a flash.
Venus had to hit several more shots than appeared initially necessary to reach 15-0 but she did with a volley winner.  Serena hit a winner just to annoy her.  Quality serving reaped the dividend of two break points before an extended rally concluded with Serena's mistake and the game to Venus, but the second seed in a position to serve for the match.

A Venus backhand winner crosscourt 0-15.  Return netted 15-15.  Serena netted a forehand after an exciting and long rally. 15-30.  Venus put a forehand into the net and 30-30.  Another one went the same way and match point.  Venus sent one wide and the title was her sister's.

Serena Williams won her seventh Australian Open 6-4 6-4 and her 23rd Grand Slam singles title overall.  Venus battled hard and forced Serena to lift her game in order to achieve the result.

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