Serena Williams produced a stellar performance at the Australian Open semi-final against Simona Halep this past week, granting her the opportunity to face Naomi Osaka in Thursday’s semi-final. Williams’ intense ball-striking ability and movement throughout the court gave her the edge she needed to carry out a win.
Williams’ career has been heavily analyzed after the birth of her daughter due to inconsistencies in her performances, however, there’s no denying that Williams is still one of the greatest athletes of all time, and her past games have proven that. When she was facing Halep she began the game with some relatively poor serves, however, by the middle of the game it was clear she got her groove back and was able to win the match with all of her other amazing skills.
Williams was able to retrieve more balls and force errors from Halep, proving she was still comfortable on the court. Her strategy was slow, yet steady, as she calmly waited for the right shot to attack her opponent and guarantee herself the win.
“If there was any criticism of Halep, who committed just four unforced errors in the opening set, it was of her poor serving when she took the lead in the second set. It was her biggest opportunity to cause havoc and she simply offered Williams too many second serves, who immediately broke back from 1-3 to 3-3,” according to sports journalist Tumaini Carayol.
Carayol explained that “while Halep took control of the points, desperately trying to keep hold of her serve, Williams was reduced to scrambling far being the baseline, living off defensive forehand slices and lunging for every ball. Williams clinched the definitive break not with a nuclear forehand, but after consecutive, breathless 20- and 16-stroke rallies.”
Williams was interviewed after the game and claimed that “movement has always been one of my strengths, and so it’s actually more natural for me to move than for me not. So it was just kind of, like: ‘Oh, that’s how I used to move,’ so it’s pretty good.”
“I think I was more focused on other things and not focused on something that is actually a strength of mine, has always been a strength of mine, and I had to refocus on that.”
Williams has now reached her 40th grand slam semi-final, and now that she has won six of her last eight games against top 10 opponents, she’s projected for even more success. The fact that she has shown clear improvement in the parts of her game that were lacking this time last year, no ones underestimating the power behind Williams.
Osaka’s recent 6-2, 6-2 win over Hsieh Su-wei that came after an intense 66-minute match has also made her another competitor to watch closely throughout the rest of these games.
“It makes me a bit more calm, just knowing that even though my back was severely against the wall I still had opportunities. Even today when I had two match points and she saved them both, normally I feel like I would have panicked but today I was pretty calm,” Osaka explained. Osaka and Williams will be facing off this Thursday at the Australian Open semi-final.
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.