Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Serena Williams’

This weekend, the Australian Open saw both Serena Williams and Roger Federer make tennis history. Serena beat her sister Venus to win her 23 Major title, meaning she has now won more Majors than any women in the Open era. The following day, Federer beat Rafa Nadal to win his 18th Major title, extending his lead over other men in tennis history. Both finals were like a throw-back to 10 years ago, no one would have imagined finals involving the Williams sisters and Federer and Nadal.

Sublime Serena

Anyone who has read my blogposts on tennis knows that I am a huge fan of Serena. However, I found myself hoping that her sister Venus would win on Saturday, a strange position to find myself. It’s not that I didn’t want Serena to win her 23 Major title, I did ver much. But, I also thought that this could be Venus’ last chance at a Major title, she seems much closer to retiring than her younger sister, partly because she battles with an auto-immune disease.

However, the fairytale of Venus winning was not to be; her younger sister overpowered her in two sets to take a well-deserved title and hence become the winner of an incredible 23 Major titles. This takes her clear of Steffi Graf, and so Serena is now the greatest woman tennis player in the Open era. Only Margaret Court has won more Majors, but she won hers during the time when tennis was not open, so one could argue (as I would), that Court was not playing against all of the best women players, some of whom had turned professional.

safariscreensnapz010

Serena Williams won her 23 Major title, moving one clear of Steffi Graf and becoming the woman who has held most Major titles in the Open era. Only Margaret Court has held more, 24, but she won hers before tennis went open.

One of the many remarkable statistics about Serena is this is the 9th Major she has won since turning 30! This compares to Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Majors in total but only 3 after she turned 30. Serena shows no sign of slowing down, if she looks after her body there is no reason why she cannot carry on for another 2 or 3 years. Already, in my opinion, she has shown herself to be the greatest woman tennis player in history; but she would take great pleasure in not only passing Margaret Court’s 24 Majors, but obliterating it by winning 25 or more.

Federer vs Nadal – déjà vu!

After Serena v Venus on Saturday, on Sunday we had another trip down memory lane; a Federer v Nadal final. If you didn’t know it, you would have thought that you had been transported back to 2007! Both Federer and Nadal came into the Australian Open after very little competitive tennis, both having suffered injury riddled seasons in 2016. For Nadal this is nothing new, sadly his injuries have dogged his career in the last 3 to 4 years. But, for Federer to have an injury lay-off is something completely new to him. Ironically, the knee operation which forced his 6-month break from the tour was not sustained playing tennis, but instead by twisting his knee when he slipped in his bathroom running a bath for his children!

But, it looks like the freshness had done both a favour. With Djokovic going out in the second round,  and Murray in the third, the draw opened up for both men to make it to the final. A Federer v Nadal final is something that I am sure neither thought that they would see again in their careers.

It was a cracker of a match. Federer won the first set, Nadal the second. Federer cruised through the third (6-1), but Nadal came back to win the fourth. He even broke Federer in the first set of the fifth, and it looked like the writing was on the wall for Federer. But, at 3-2 down in the fifth, Federer raised his game, broke back to 3-3 and then won the next 3 games to take the final set 6-3.

safariscreensnapz009

Federer beat Nadal in a thrilling 5-set match to win his 18 Major title. He now stands 4 clear of Nadal, and it is his first Major title since winning Wimbledon in July 2012.

Just like Serena, Federer showed once again why he is, arguably, the greatest tennis player the men’s game has ever seen. That is a highly contentious claim, and I would qualify it by saying that we really can’t compare eras. But, for my money, the only player from any era who could claim to be the greatest ever if it’s not Federer would be Rod Laver. Both Federer and Serena are 35; but contrary to Serena, Federer has only won two Majors since turning 30. I think Federer is closer to the end of his career than Serena, but if he manages his body and tournaments wisely I see no reason why he cannot win Wimbledon for a couple more years, he is still the finest natural grass court player around today.

Well done the oldies!!!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Serena Williams has finally done it, she has equalled Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Major titles. It has taken her longer than most people expected, given that she had 21 after last year’s Wimbledon, but after three successive defeats in the intervening majors (one at the semi-final stage and two in the final), she is now equal to the great Steffi Graf.

Surely she will go on and win more; although she is now 34 she shows little sign of losing her appetite for tennis and for winning. Also, she is yet to win a Grand Slam, and I am under little doubt that she will try in 2017 (and 2018?) to do this, before retiring. Even if she goes on to win 24 or 25 or 26 Major titles, I think she would not feel satisfied of her legacy unless she can also hold all four titles in the same year.


There has been mention of Margaret Court’s haul of 24 Major titles. But, to my mind, this record does not count. Margaret Court did not turn professional until tennis had become ‘open’, and so from 1963 to 1968 she was not competing against some of the best players of her day, who had decided to turn professional. If Graf or Williams had many of the best players removed from the Majors in which they were playing, who knows how many titles they could have won. So yes, technically, Court won 24 Majors, but many of them were hollow ones, as she surely would now admit.

Serena Williams is a truly remarkable athlete. I love her passion, her energy, her commitment and her drive. I really do hope that in 2017 (or 2018) she can get her Grand Slam, which would not only cap a remarkable career, but ensure her at least 26 Major titles and seal her place as the greatest female tennis player in history.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday (Saturday 30 January), Serena Williams played in her seventh Australian Open final. She had not only won all six of her previous final appearances, but she had the opportunity to win more Australian Open titles than anyone in history. Having failed to win the US Open last year, and hence just miss out on the Grand Slam, Serena had looked very impressive in her previous rounds. But, she was denied her 22nd Major title (which would have equalled Steffi Graf’s record) by a relatively unknown German by the name of Angelique Kerber.

SafariScreenSnapz001

Serena Williams failed to win her first Major of 2016 and her 22nd of her career, to equal Steffi Graf’s record

It could not have started worse for Kerber, she lost the first seven points in the opening two games, but quickly turned things around and went on to win the first set 6-4. Serena won the second set 6-3, and in a tight third set it went all the way to a tense tenth game, which Kerber won to win the match and the championship.

With this year being an Olympic year, people were even talking of Serena winning a Grand Slam plus the Olympics, a “super Slam” maybe? But, with the Australian Open now lost, Serena clearly cannot now do that. However, it was nice to see her smiling in defeat. I suspect that the pressure she put on herself last year as the possibility of a Grand Slam progressed has now been replaced with a feeling of “if I stay fit, I will surpass Steffi, so why sweat it?”. Which is my feeling. She looks as fit as ever at 34, and if she does not injure herself there is no reason why she cannot play this year, next year and, who knows, maybe even into 2018. Surely, with 4 Majors every year, it is just a matter of time before she wins her 22nd, 23rd, 24th and…… who knows?

Read Full Post »

As anyone who follows my blog postings on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan. Yesterday (Friday the 10th), he dispatched Andy Murray with apparent ease to make his way to his tenth Wimbledon final. He has not dropped a set during his passage through the tournament, and has only dropped his service once. Tomorrow he will try to win Wimbledon for the 8th time, and if he succeeds he will make history. The final is a repeat of last year’s final against Djokovic, a final that Federer could have won, and looking back probably feels that he should have won. Federer currently shares the record of the most number of Wimbledon titles with Pete Sampras (see my blog here), with both on 7; but tomorrow he could own this record all to himself. And, he will extend his record of the most Major titles from 17 to 18. If he wins.



As anyone who follows my blogs on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan.

Federer looked imperious against Murray, beating him comfortably in three straight sets.



Later today, at 2pm British Summer Time, Serena Williams will also be trying to make some history. If she wins in today’s final she will have won 21 Major titles, and be only one away from equalling Steffi Graf’s record of 22. In addition, she will hold all four Majors at the same time, having won last year’s US Open in September and this year’s Australian and French in January and June respectively. She will also be on course to do the Grand Slam, win all four Majors in the same year, something which has not been done since Steffi Graf did it in 1988, nearly 30 years ago. I would not put it past her, the determination she has shown in this Wimbledon has been a lesson to anyone who wants to see how hard you have to apply yourself to succeed. When she was nearly dead and buried against Heather Watson (see my blog here) she dug deep and found a way to win.

I need to update my July 2013 blog on tennis statistics (Tennis Roll of Honours” see here), as Serena has moved on from the 17 Major titles she had then to 20. Unfortunately Roger’s 17 has not changed, but hopefully by Monday morning they will be on 21 and 18 respectively!

By the way, in this blog I posted a video of the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen, John McEnroe’s demolition of Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon final. However, the video no longer works. McEnroe won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the most one-sided thrashing of another high-ranked player that I have ever seen, and some of the tennis McEnroe played on that day surpasses anything I have witnessed, even from Federer. I have found a new link to the video of that match, so if you fancy seeing it you can watch it below. The quality is very poor in places, which is a pity.





So, I’m hoping for a Serena Roger double this weekend! Who are you rooting for?

Read Full Post »

Yesterday (Friday the 3rd of July) nearly saw the early exit from Wimbledon of Serena Williams, the overwhelming favourite to win this year’s Wimbledon women’s title. Serena is trying to win her fourth major in a row, having won the US Open in 2014, and the Australian Open and French Open already this year. Since I drew up my table of Tennis Roll of Honours back in July 2013, Serena has added four more Grand Slam titles. In September 2013 she won the US Open, and in 2014 she again won the US Open after a “dry spell” (for her). She now stands at twenty Major titles, just two behind Steffi Graf’s record (in the Open era) of 22.

Serena nearly lost yesterday to an inspired Heather Watson, who is currently the British number 1 (and, on this display, is likely to stay there, despite previous number 1 Laura Robson coming back from an 18-month injury lay-off). Most people assumed Serena would blow Watson off the court, and the first set went pretty much as expected with Serena winning it 6-2.

However, in the 2nd set, Serena started making a series of errors. Some were unforced, but many were due to Watson upping her standard of play and out-rallying Serena with powerful ground strokes which kept Serena pinned back and running around all over the court. Watson won the 2nd set 6-4, but I assumed she would be overpowered by Serena in the 3rd set.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Watson went into a 3-0 lead, breaking Serena’s serve twice. She was serving to go up 4-0, and had she done so I think Serena would not have been able to come back. In a very long game which went to several deuces, Serena finally managed to break back to make it 3-1. She then brought in back to 3-3, and again I thought Watson would now crumble under Serena’s pressure.

Nothing of the kind. After losing three games in a row, Watson got back to playing the tennis that had troubled Serena so much and broke Serena’s serve again. At 5-4, she found herself serving for the match. Serena managed to up her game again, and broke back to make it 5-5. She then held her own serve, and broke Watson again, to finally win the match 7-5 in the last set.



At 5-4 in the 3rd set, Heather Watson served for the match, but Serena held on to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

At 5-4 in the 3rd set, Heather Watson served for the match, but Serena held on to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.



I have rarely seen Serena look so worried and relieved to win a match as she did in this one. It is not so much that Watson lost her nerve, she lost because Serena has an inner belief and fight that marks a true champion apart from the also-rans. You don’t win 20 Major titles without having to dig yourself out of holes and win the important points, and Serena did this yesterday to pull off a remarkable victory after staring down the barrel of defeat.

So, Serena is still on course to win her fourth Major in a row, and if she does she will hold all four Majors at the same time. She would also, of course, still be on course to win all four Majors in the same year (with the US Open in September), and if she does this she will finally achieve a Grand Slam, one of the few accolades she has so far not achieved in her illustrious career. After fighting back from imminent defeat, I wouldn’t now put it past her.

Read Full Post »

Last night, Serena Williams won the 2014 US Open, and by doing so won her 18th Major title, equalling the record of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. The only person who has won more Major titles is Stefi Graf, who won 22. When I blogged about the number of Majors won by the leading tennis players here, Serena had won 16.



Serena Williams has won the 2014 US Open, putting her equal with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in winning 18 Major titles.

Serena Williams has won the 2014 US Open, putting her equal with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in winning 18 Major titles.



Serena dominated her opponent Caroline Wozniacki, and if she stays fit I see no reason why she cannot reach Graf’s record of 22 in the next year or two. When she is on form, she still completely dominates women’s tennis and is capable of winning on all 4 surfaces.

On the men’s side, both Djokovic and Federer went out in their respective semi-finals. As a big fan of Federer I was very disappointed to see him go out in the semi-finals after beating Monfils in the quarter finals in a 5-set thriller. Time I feel is running out for Federer to take his own tally of Majors to 18 or beyond, although after saying that I think it is true that he is playing with a new appetite for the game in which he has achieved everything. I suspect having Stefan Edberg coaching him has played a part in his recent resurgence.

The men’s title will therefore be won by either Japanese player Nishikori (who beat Djokovic) or Serbian Cilic (who beat Federer), so definitely a new title on the men’s trophy.

Read Full Post »