US Open 2019: Serena Williams stutters again in search of Grand Slam record
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From Russell Fuller
BBC tennis correspondent in Flushing Meadows
“The larger the occasion, the larger she hits,” Bianca Andreescu’s coach said ahead of the Canadian’s US Open final victory.
The 19-year-old was being talked about by sylvain Bruneau, but it could have equally applied at any point over the previous twenty years, to Serena Williams, her opponent.
But something has changed in Grand Slam finals of late night.
Only 10 months was nothing short of miraculous for Williams to reach the 2018 Wimbledon final. And using hardly any games in between to allow the American to do the same in a year’s US Open, was just a different incredible feat.
Naomi Osaka and angelique Kerber played to acquire those finals, Simona Halep was outstanding at this year’s Wimbledon final, and belief the poise and skill of Andreescu at Flushing Meadows on Saturday was a thing to watch.
A set of players today believe they have what it takes to conquer on the Grand Slam winner – who is one brief of Australian Margaret Court’s all-purpose record – if a decoration is online.
37, williams, may think she has the beating of these, but it doesn’t appear that way, and she didn’t play in the final as she had done in rounds.
Her movement, so remarkable from the semi-finals contrary to Elina Svitolina, was more laboured. And her function was considerably diminished.
Williams was broken twice in six matches before the final. On Saturday, she was broken six times.
She made only 44 percent of first serves. She won only 30 percent of her second-serve points. And she sent down eight double faults.
As she won four matches in a row to level the set from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd to thunderous encouragement her serve recovered, temporarily.
After that, in 5-5 and with the Canadian just a championship stage had come and gone, the clinical and positive Williams disappeared although andreescu place her fingers in her ears to block out the noise.
Her serve and her groundstrokes became tentative and edgy, as Andreescu recovered a richly deserved first Grand Slam title.
“Serena…,” Williams explained, addressing herself at a post game news conference. “You didn’t miss a serve, you lost function possibly twice in the entire championship, and you did not hit a first function in now.
“That was clearly on my head. How do I play at a level like this in a closing?”
The 2013 Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli, also a close friend of Williams, thinks when she steps on into courtroom, the American places pressure on himself, and cannot rid that.
“She simply feels she has to acquire this one, and it has to be the one which she’s likely to get to 24, then to 25 [Grand Slam titles],” Bartoli told BBC Radio 5 Live weekly.
Williams’ next opportunity to draw level with the listing of Court will likely come in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Winning a closing on the WTA Tour between then and now may do Williams an energy of great, but does she want to compete at the final stretch of the year in Asia?
She hasn’t played with any tournaments. Back in 2014, when she played and won the WTA Finals, she went on to win the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon the following year.
Following 22 years on tour – and with a two-year-old child to think – a second spell away from home may not appeal. But the opportunity to play three or more games against competitions that are top-eight at Shenzhen at the WTA Finals, as well as a few more tournaments, would be an fantastic springboard to 2020?
Williams, of course, has nothing to show. To most, she is already considered the greatest – from the women’s game. She has won all of her major titles at the Open era, also has been at Grand Slam finals 20 years aside.
But she desperately wants to equivalent, and then surpass, the tally of Court.
Further opportunities may well arise, but it’s currently reasonable to inquire if, instead of when, she will do it.
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Analysis and view from the tennis correspondent of the BBC.
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