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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spoke Too Soon: SERENA Upset in US Open, #1 No More


Just a few days ago, we wrote how Serena Williams was Queen of the world of tennis. At 308 match wins through all four tennis Grand Slam events as of Tuesday September 6 – surpassing the recovering Roger Federer – she was fit to fight her way to the championship of this year’s US Open, thus breaking her tie with legendary player Steffi Graf of 22 Grand Slam titles. Everything looked like it was going to go the way of the younger Williams sister in making tennis history. 

As it turned out on Thursday September 8, fate is fickle. Better luck next time. Serena’s quest to win the 2016 US Open, and the bonus objective of getting a 23 rd Grand Slam title, have both been frustrated. On the semifinal matches she was stopped cold by Karolina Pliskova, in a disappointing performance – for a Williams – of 6-2 and 7-6 (7-5). The Czech tennis diva, who had already humbled Serena’s elder sister Venus in an earlier match, became the third woman to beat both Williams Sisters in the US Open. To be more specific she is the first to beat Venus and Serena in the same edition of the US Open, and her winning streak is holding at 11 straight match victories.

"I always knew I had a chance to beat anyone if I'm playing my game, the 24-year old wrote in a post-match tweet. “Serena, she's a champion."

The game Pliskova is talking about is her mean and powerful serve. The Women’s Tennis Association lists her as number one in terms of Aces, points scored from serves not returned by the opponent. And this was the weapon she used to pull the rug from under Serena in the match, finishing off the first set at 6-2 in only 26 minutes. While the younger Williams tried to rally in Set 2, Pliskova methodically killed any momentum the older player could muster. Ultimately a double fault by Serena sealed her fate, giving victory to the Czech.

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s coach, couldn’t blame his player for a sloppy performance. Serena had been constantly on the court on two consecutive days, he says, and she was favoring a pain in one knee since Wednesday September 8. “I don't remember the last time I've seen her move so slow," he remarked.

But the damage is done. As soon as the tennis rankings are updated on Monday September 12, her defeat will have ended her 186-week tenure as number one player in the world. This too is shared with Graf, by the way. Germany’s Angelique Kerber is expected to be on top next week.

The retired Graf however, is highly supportive of Williams to break their tie in record titles. As the former German superstar (and wife to fellow tennis great Andre Agassi) puts it, “That’s what records are for, to be broken.”

Photo Credit to Orlando Sentinel

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