Friday, 20 January 2017

Serena wins quality battle

Serena Williams last played Lucie Safarova in the 2015 Roland Garros final where it took three sets for Serena to win yet another major.

To have to meet the Czech former top ten player in the second round of the Aus Open was a challenge, but not a huge problem for Serena considering the respective form lines of the two since that 2015 clash.
In the first round, Williams had knocked out Belinda Bencic in straight sets and Safarova eliminated Yanina Wickmayer in three.

Serena opened erratically including two double faults, but saved a break point to win the first game.  Lucie served a double fault of her own, but a winning backhand levelled things at 1-1.

The quality of tennis quickly lifted and both players were hitting cleanly, winning points with positive shot making rather than benefitting from unforced errors.
Serves were held for 2-2, forehand winners from Safarova prominent.

The fifth game was key.  Serena was up 30-0 after two typically big serves, one an ace.  However two double faults, each of them on game point, brought Lucie back into the game.  Serena had to then save three break points before she became fed up with all this wasting time so finished it off with an ace and a volley winner to lead 3-2.

The next Williams serve was held to love, probably to help make up the time taken previously.  4-3
From 40-30, Safarova made unforced mistakes on both sides to give Williams a break chance.  That one averted, another one took its place after an unfortunate double fault.
Serena converted this into a service break and led 5-3.

After a forehand winner from Lucie had Serena at 0-15 serving for the set, the second seed routinely rattled off an ace, two volley winners and another ace to seal the first part of the contract 6-3.

Game one of set two had plenty.  Lucie was serving and faced a break point after Serena had sent past three winners.  Saved with an ace.
The next break point saved with a forehand winner.  Happy to end it there, two successive aces followed.

Williams saved two break points in the second game, while Safarova had a much easier run on serve in the third, winning it to love, another two aces recorded.
At 2-3, Williams faced break point thanks to a pair of Safarova forehand winners, but it was saved following the third ace for the game.  Serve was held for 3-3.

Leading 30-15 in the seventh game, two costly unforced errors and a double fault from Safarova handed Williams the vital service break, and the American led 4-3.
Two aces assisted Serena consolidate the break.

An easy hold from Lucie left Serena to serve for the match.

Not so easy.  Two aces and match point at 40-30 but a poor backhand wasted that one.  A better backhand created a second match point, but a double fault blew that.
Lucie donated the third match point with a generous forehand error.  Third time lucky.

Serena Williams won a highly entertaining and high standard match 6-3 6-4 enabling her entry to the third round.

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