Saturday, July 4, 2015

WIMBLEDON: Serena survives Watson storm to set up Venus fourth round


As Serena Williams found herself down a double-break in the final set against Heather Watson on Centre Court yesterday, the world No1 was not thinking about her bids for a ‘Serena Slam’ or the Grand Slam potentially coming to an end.

She was actually wondering about where she would find a dance class to take the next day as she planned to stick around at Wimbledon regardless, to watch her sister Venus play.

But that dance class would have to wait as Serena clawed her way back into the match to break the hearts of the home crowd, as well as Watson, by winning 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to set up a fourth round clash with big sis Venus.

Watson had sent the All England Club into a frenzy when she broke Serena twice to go up 3-0 in the final set against the American.

Facing her idol for the first time, the British world No59, was trying to reach a maiden grand slam fourth round and when she got a game point to go up 4-0, it looked like she was about to achieve her goal, causing a huge upset in the process.

But that marathon fourth game of the final set saw Serena force break point after break point and the relentless top seed finally converted on her sixth chance to get one of the breaks back. Instead of having a 4-0 lead, Watson soon found herself tied with Serena at 3-all, with both service breaks gone.

Watson was tight but was still pulling off impressive winners, refusing to surrender. She broke in game nine to lead 5-4 and serve for the upset but Serena once again found her inner beast. The five-time Wimbledon champion needed four break point chances before she broke back to stay alive in the contest and held serve for a 6-5 lead.

In game 12, Watson saved two match points on her own serve but Williams kept crushing the ball, sending the Brit from side to side to get a third. Williams finally got the win with a ball that clipped the line. Watson made a desperate challenge but to no avail, the home favourite was done and dusted, but undoubtedly won many hearts on her way out.

“I just wish I could maybe go back and play one point different to see if it would have changed things. But it wasn't supposed to be today,” said a disappointed Watson.

“I was super, super close. I think that's what really hurts the most.”

Andy Murray tweeted after the match:

Asked if she was aware how proud she made Britain feel with her performance, Watson said: “I hope so. Yeah, it would have been a lot better if I would have won. But I hope I did. I hope I fought for them and showed that it's not going to be a walk in the park for anybody that plays me.

Serena has already made it further in the draw than she did last year when she lost to Alize Cornet in the third round. She admits she didn’t think she would make it yesterday though.

“I honestly didn't think I was going to win. How I pulled through, I really don't know. I just was like, ‘listen, if I'm going to go lose, I'm going to lose trying to do the right things’,” said the 33-year-old.

“I just felt like she was playing really well. She just did everything so well. I wasn't able to keep up. Sometimes you just don't have your day. I thought maybe today just wasn't my day.

“I think she played unbelievable. She really went out there with a mindset of winning this match. That was how she went out there,” added Serena, who hit 53 winners to 33 unforced errors compared to Watson’s 20-11 ratio.

“She did her best today. I thought she played unbelievable. I thought she served well. I think she did everything great. She kept her unforced errors really, really low. Yeah, it was pretty impressive.”

Venus is back in the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time in 2011 (she didn’t play in 2013) thanks to a routine 6-3, 6-2 win over Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia.

Of her upcoming date with her sister, Serena said: “I'm playing the toughest player I've played in women's tennis. That's never fun.”

Ex-world No1 Victoria Azarenka came through a tricky encounter with Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-4 while last year’s semi-finalist and French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova fought back from a set down to beat American Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

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