Serena Williams played what experts are calling her best tennis match of the season yet this past Monday against Maria Sakkari. After an intense two and a half hours Serena beat Sakkari, this reaching her 53rd grand slam quarter-final position.
12 days prior she faced off against Sakkari in what resulted in a much different outcome. She started that match with a solid 7-5, 5-3 lead and began serving for the win when Sakkari caught a second-wind and beat Williams, tying them up for the potential quarter-final position. In the third set of that match, Williams began to noticeably cramp which impacted her performance and allowed Sakkari to take the win.
“It was a completely different scenario and completely different moment. I just kept fighting and she was doing so well, being so aggressive. I knew that I needed to do the same thing.”
Sakkari has been thought of as one of the most improved pro-tennis players within the past few years. She credits part of her success to her coach, Thomas Hill, who helped her go from top 50 status to number 22 in the world. In the beginning of game 3 this Monday, Sakkari started strong by throwing down three aces, however, Williams quickly retaliated, saving all three break points giving her control over the serve.
Once she was able to hold serve her momentum was visibly unstoppable. However, it was clear that Sakkari was in no position to back down from facing the world’s greatest tennis player, especially with a quarterfinal position on the line. Williams was able to blow off her four set points, but found it difficult to keep up and by the end of the second set Sakkari has hit more winners and aces, giving her a 2-0 lead. However, Williams fought back just as hard, winning her three more games.
At this point the scoring was at 3-3- and 30-30, but Williams saw the end result she wanted and took it after hitting an ace that was measured at reaching a speed of 124 miles-per-hour, giving her the win and quarterfinal position.
Williams is no stranger to grand slam finals as most know. Between 2018 and 2019, Williams lost a total of four grand slam finals, however, she’s still referred to as one of the stars of those finals for the phenomenal matches she played. This season, fans began to notice a shift in her game; she appeared to move slower and lose her timing a lot easier. However, Williams used these critiques as motivation to do better, and at the Arthur Ashe Stadium she completely turned a corner and began taking wins every chance she got.
Williams is now set to face off against Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova; a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2010 who briefly retired from tennis after the birth of her son. The US Open this year is her first event back playing pro-tennis, and fans couldn’t be more excited that she’s making her comeback against Williams, as they know the two are definitely going to put on a nail-biter of a match.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.