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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Serena scorches through

Photo Titled Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Week two of The Championships and the Williams sisters are gathering pace as they head towards the final and, possibly, another family affair.

Less than an hour after her big sister, Venus, had eased into the last eight, Serena raced in behind her, walloping Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1 in 56 minutes.

With the early rounds no more than a distant memory, Serena has a new and mean look as the tournament warms up – and she looked pretty scary last week. She means business and no one, particularly not a woman she had beaten in six of seven previous meetings, was going to delay her.

Williams arrived on court calmer than she had done for her previous match. More used to gracing the bigger show courts, she was caught out on Friday when she arrived late for her match on No.2 Court.

This time, Williams was out sharpish to her appointed playing area and was warming up in her raincoat in good time to start proceedings. The raincoat did seem a little excessive in the heat, especially as the great British tennis watching public was going quietly puce in the sun.

Hantuchova was also looking a little pale as Williams got to work. Within no time, she was 3-1 down as the former champion leant into her ground strokes and ramped up the power. The tall and slender Hantuchova can give the ball an almighty clout but it is as nothing compared to Williams with her eye on the title.

Still, as Andre Agassi was always pointing out: breaking serve is the easy part – especially when, like him, you have one of the best returns in the world – it is the hold game that really matters. And, much to her annoyance, having taken the lead, Williams immediately dropped serve. It was a mistake she was not about to make twice.

Hantuchova began by pumping the ball to the Williams forehand only to discover that this was not a good idea. As the ball came thundering back, and usually into places far removed from the Slovak’s reach, she was forced to think again.

Switching her attention to the backhand side, it did not take Hantuchova long to realise that such a tactic was dicing with professional death. Going for broke, she tried playing to both flanks and, running Williams from tramline to tramline, she won a point or two – but that only made Williams angry. And Serena with her dander up is a terrifying sight to behold. Sure enough, the second set was wrapped up in just 26 minutes.

So far Williams has dropped just 20 games on her way to the quarter-finals but she may find herself pushed harder from here on in.

Next in line is Victoria Azarenka, the 19-year-old from Belarus who had Williams on the ropes for a set at the Australian Open this year until she was forced to retire with a combination of a stomach upset and heat exhaustion.

Court 2 - Ladies' Singles - 4th Round
Daniela Hantuchova SVK 31
Serena Williams USA (2)Winner66

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