91 total views, 1 views today
Irrespective of her age and athletic decline in recent years, Serena Williams’ experience and will to win guarantees she remains a threat every time she steps foot on the court.
In what was most likely her last major, the American made a respectable run at this month’s US Open that had fans of the all-time great hopeful she could win at Flushing Meadows and finish her incredible career on a high.
With the tennis betting online odds having Williams at 25/1 entering the Open, many were of the belief that winning in the Big Apple was going to be too tough a task. However, after impressive wins over formidable opponents Danka Kovinic and pre-tournament second seed Anett Kontaveit – it appeared as though she could do the unthinkable and raise a major trophy one last time.
In her first and second round victories, Williams was able to wind back the clock and display the destructive power and tennis IQ that has made her arguably the greatest female player in the sport’s history. Additionally, with a raucous home crowd behind her, it was clear that she was gaining in confidence with each performance.
While reigning supreme in New York was important given the magnitude of the occasion, there was added pressure on the40-year-old as another major win would ensure she tied Margaret Court with 24 Grand Slams. Although 13 of Court’s Slam victories were in the pre-Open era, Williams was vocal about her desire in achieving that milestone.
Accomplishing such a feat wasn’t going to be easy however, and given the talented crop of up-and-coming players on the tour, she needed to maintain her faultless form if she wanted to progress to the final. With that said – before Williams could begin fantasising about a swansong on Flushing Meadows’ centre-court, she had to overcome her third round opponent Ajla Tomljanovic.
As play began, Tomljanovic established her intent early, breaking her opponent’s serve in the opening game. That was short-lived however, as Williams grasped back the momentum to take a 5-3 lead, putting herself in the box seat to take the first set. To the Australian’s credit, she didn’t let her opponent’s sublime form or the immense pressure of the evening break her spirit, as she fought back to win four games on the trot – and by doing so, took the first set 7-5.
Tomljanovic’s varied stroke-play and mobility was giving Williams problems – however – as the American has shown on so many occasions, she has an innate ability to adapt mid-match and come back with a vengeance. She did just that in the second set, dominating her opponent to shoot out to a demanding 4-0 lead.
With the set was looking as though it was a forgone conclusion, Tomljanovic proved once again that she wasn’t going to lay down and accept her fate – fighting back to win six of the next eight games to send it to a tiebreaker. Despite her phenomenal efforts, Williams held her nerve to win the tiebreaker 7-4.
That set up a mouth-watering third set, with both women not giving in an inch in what was shaping up to be a US Open fixture for the ages. As they resumed play, there was a feeling that a Williams victory was written in the stars – however that wasn’t to be the case – as Tomljanovic showed all of her class and defied the pre-match tennis tips today to win the final set decisively (6-1).
While the loss is a bitter pill to swallow for Williams, it doesn’t take away from her legacy as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the court. The women’s US Open final will take place this Saturday.