Can Serena lose the title now?
by Abe Kuijl | July 2nd, 2007, 8:02 pm
  • 36 Comments

I have taken some heat for predicting another Serena Williams championship run here at Wimbledon, after having previously picked her to win Roland Garros.

Like I wrote in my previews for both the French Open, as for Wimbledon, I believe the tournament winner will come out of the quarterfinal the two of them will play against each other. Making the previews for the Grand Slam in Paris, I was aware of the fact that Justine was the better clay court player, but I believed Serena’s mentality would get her past the Belgian. However, as the younger Wiliams described herself after their match, the real Serena never showed up. Still, all the credit goes to Henin, because the queen of clay was in a league of her own throughout the tournament.

Now, let’s get back to where we’re at right now and what happened on Centre Court in the early evening of the second Monday of Wimbledon. Serena Williams overcame a calf strain in her left leg en route to an epic three set win over Daniela Hantuchova, the 10th seed from Slovakia. Had rain not set in just shortly after Serena cramped up, there was hardly a chance the ’02 and ’03 Wimbledon champion was going to win this match. Now, even though Serena lost the tiebreaker coming out of the locker room two hours later, and was nowhere near being a hundred percent fit, the injury had improved enough, so that the seventh-seeded American could will her way to victory in the final set. Not for the first time in her career, Serena’s intensity brought out the best in her, but more importantly, it intimidated Hantuchova into producing more and more unforced errors.

I think it’s fair to say the real Serena Williams showed up today, and I don’t think she will be leaving anytime soon. Serena will now get another shot at Henin in their quarterfinal match on Wednesday, and assuming she will be fully fit by then, her chances to beat the Belgian have only increased. If the Roland Garros beatdown from Henin was not enough of a motivation for Serena, then the extra adrenaline and confidence she will take with her out of the Hantuchova win will surely add fuel to the Serena flame. Henin might be playing the best tennis of her career, I am sticking with the Williams determination.  

Enough about Serena and Justine, Wimbledon 2007 has a lot more going on. That is, in between the 347 rain delays we’ve had so far. We have Nikolay Davydenko on the verge of making his first ever fourth round at Wimbledon, even though the Russian had only won one match on grass in his career before 2007. Then there’s the comeback of former No.4 Nicolas Kiefer from Germany, who is giving Novak Djokovic a run for his money in the third round, and 18-year-old Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek took out last week’s Ordina Open champion Anna Chakvetadze and is through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Oh, and let’s not forget our newest Serbian star, Janko Tipsarevic, who made it into the fourth round following a win over Fernando Gonzalez.

Still, what has impressed me most so far has been the performance from the 16-year-old Tamira Paszek. The young girl from Austria outplayed Elena Dementieva from the baseline in a cracking match and has a very good shot at making her first ever major quarterfinal. Paszek will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round, but the Russian’s game doesn’t suit the grass courts very well and she has been up and down throughout the tournament so far. Watch for Paszek’s backhand. It’s brutal.


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36 Comments for Can Serena lose the title now?

funches Says:

Even if your Serena pick over Henin proves to be right, it’s asinine to say her chances improved after getting a severe cramp. She will still be sore on Wednesday, and unless she has a monster serving day, she will lose by about the same score as their Roland Garros encounter.


penise Says:

assuming she will be fit . . . if Serena wins, women’s tennis is a joke


Steven Says:

Everyone knows what Serena says about her losses. The truth is, it’s in Justine’s hands. Justine is the only player capable of dominating Serena for an entire set….and not just on clay anymore. That said, Justine should have beaten Serena in straight sets the last TWO times they played, but she can still get nervous and choke at times. If Justine brings her A game, and doesn’t “go away” mentally, she will win…..but it might take three sets.


anthony Says:

I agree Justine had the last two matches in her hand in straight sets. In Miami, Justine folded. HOWEVER, those two first sets in Miami and the quarter in Paris was Serena totally off her game. If Serena shows up on her game, she is still unquestionably the best player on tour and the one to beat. IF she has an off day, Justine will win. Justine is definately week in and week out the more consistent, but in best vs. best — serena wins.


bg Says:

You seem to have been following Serena quite well through the tournament. Maybe you should have taken some time off to watch just 5 minutes of ‘any’ of Henin’s matches. As others have commented before me, this match is entirely in Henins hands. Henin has the greatest advantage over serena in the fact that she has better mobility and footwork. with the uneven bouncing surface these two will prove very crucial.
But judging by the good serve that Serena has, the match will be decided in two straight sets with a single difference in break of serve.

bg
PS: your article gives the impression that you are a very biased American journalist


pat Says:

Paszek I would love to see, they showed a fleeting thirty seconds or so of her match. On the other hand we saw lots and lots and lots of Serena especially today, and Venus too. Somehow for me the determination of Serena got lost in yet another day of espn2′s terrible coverage of this event. It is so disappointing! We scarcely saw any of Nadal-Soderling, or Djokovic or anyone else really. What is going on? Is this really a tennis tournament, or as Nikolay would say, the most boring thing on the planet?


JCF Says:

Just admit it Abe. You are a biased Serena cheerleader. She can do no wrong, and can never lose, because she’s the Goddess of Tennis. Every loss or poor performance makes her an even better and more dangerous player than every emphatic win would.


samps Says:

Serena came back pretty well but there was some serious gamesmanship. After the rain she seemed fine and what was with the stupid bathroom breaks?! and she never took them when she was allowed to..


SANDY Says:

i confidently believe that Serena is going to pull this through. im not saying is going to be an easy win, but i think serena in three. and it will be a battle. serena as shawn in the past and present that her determination and confidence has pulled through in many matches. As an example 2005 australian open semis against Sharapova two match points down came to win it. i know a lot of players win matches, after being down match point. But what highlights serena among others is that she does it against the top players. So my definete prediction is serena in three sets. Her desire and competetiveness is going to overcome Henin’s top form.


Colleen Says:

bg,

I think it’s unfair to write this opinion off as “biased American journalism.” To me there is no question in my mind that Serena is the better player, especially on grass where Serena can really impose her size and game.

The problem is, Serena’s not totally fit, she’s not at her best, and Justine is. So, given the facts, I would say that Justine is the favorite. But…never count Serena out.

As for Henin, she has benefitted a LOT lately of opponents just being cowed and not showing up to play. I.e. Ivanovic in the final. It’s not her fault her opponents can’t step up, but her true colors will show when she’s tested.


Jason Alfrey Says:

Remember what happened at the Ausie Open. People were saying that she wasn’t in shape and not match tough. What does she go out and do? Brings devastation upon her opponents. Be careful of Serena when she feels the need to PROVE herself in the eyes of her naysayers.


addicted Says:

As Samps mentions, whenever Hantuchova looked like she had the game under control, Serena would throw a fit, and complain about needing to go to the bathroom etc. As soon as the momentum would swing her way, all those needs would magically disappear.

If Serena still suffers from cramps in her next game, I dont know how she can beat Henine. Well, at least she stands much less chance than she would without cramps.


JCF Says:

“As for Henin, she has benefitted a LOT lately of opponents just being cowed and not showing up to play. I.e. Ivanovic in the final. It’s not her fault her opponents can’t step up, but her true colors will show when she’s tested.”

She’s been tested many times, coming back from match points down, or 4-0 or 5-1 in the 3rd set. She is one of the strongest players out there mentally, and wouldn’t have 5 or 6 slams if she wasn’t.


Abe Kuijl Says:

Let me just clear this up: I am not an American, nor do I reside in the US. And no, I’m not a member of the Serena Williams fanclub either.

I absolutely don’t deny the fact that Henin has been playing brilliant tennis. She has done better than Serena in the tournament, no doubt about it, but when the two square off head to head, the mental factor comes into play, and I believe Serena’s desire to win will get her past Justine. Her win over Hantuchova has only added to her determination to do well here at Wimbledon.


Skorocel Says:

Absolutely agree with you, JCF. How can someone say Justine hasn’t been tested?! That’s plain stupid! Just remember that crazy match vs Davenport at the Aussie Open cca 5 years ago – that really was something!


Mark Says:

I think Henin will win. But win or lose, Serena Williams will be unbearable as usual. Geez! that girl has got the worst winner or worst loser in sport. If she loses, it will be because (a) my calf injury played up (the seriousness of which you just have to doubt given her 3rd set against Hantuchova) (b) I didn’t bring my A Game. Without doubt, Williams is a champion at tennis and could beat Henin. But she simply doesn’t have the class or humility to be a likable one.


JCF Says:

Abe, by your reasoning, Serena should go undefeated in any season? What would it take to beat her with this ‘mental factor’ that applies to any match against any opponent?


Abe Kuijl Says:

JCF,

I believe that if Serena is fit and dedicated to a (major) tournament, she definitely is the player to beat. Except on clay, where Henin is undoubtedly No.1.

I don’t think you can deny the fact that Serena is the biggest competitor on the WTA Tour, and that’s exactly what wins matches at the top level. The mental aspect.


nadalroks Says:

henin won haha, sharapova lost tho i didnt see that one coming.


grendel Says:

Who gave the better performance in the second set? Henin. Who won it? Williams. Like a sort of confidence trick. 3rd set, Henin 5 – 1 up, serving for match. Reckon she’ll do it? I don’t, and she doesn’t. Henin intimidates every player on the tour except Williams, who intimidates her. Henin was a shadow of herself in those last few games, and somehow she pulled it off. It was gutsy, because you could tell she was full of fear. Her serve had almost disappeared. Her “allez”, usually so irritating, lacked all conviction. She looked by far the better player, and yet it looked for a bit as if Williams was going to bulldoze her to defeat. This raises the inevitable question. Navratilova – who has backed Henin all along to win the title – reckons Williams is still sluggish. If she can get the old fitness back – basically to do with the “quads” I gather – then, says Martina “Watch out!”. That’s the question. How can Henin cope with a properly fit Williams? Seems to me then you have a great heavyweight against a great flyweight. Who would you put your money on?


Giner Says:

“Can Serena lose the title now?”

Yes.

Abe, it’s time to eat your words. You just got owned twice in a row to the same player. Perhaps Serena is not the best player of all time after all? I can’t wait to hear Serena’s ungracious press conference… my ankle was playing up… I definately didn’t play close to my best — were I playing 10% better, I would have won it easily.


JCF Says:

“Who gave the better performance in the second set? Henin. Who won it? Williams.”

I don’t know how you can say Henin performed better in the 2nd set. She did have two break chances more than Serena did but got broken twice, while only breaking Serena once.

I fell asleep during the 3rd set, so I don’t know what happened, but when I woke up she was at Match Point and clinched it. Someone who chokes or can’t handle a ‘test’ would have blown away a 5-1 lead and gone to defeat. End of the day, she didn’t lose it, so credit to her. Properly fit Williams? Seems she is never properly fit. Always has some niggle that she can fall back on as an excuse in case she needs to explain a defeat. And it’s no one’s excuse other than Serena’s if she can’t take care of her own body. If you’re overweight, who can you blame but yourself? It’s your job as a player to stay fit, so if you can’t do that, don’t use it as an excuse.

Heavyweight vs Flyweight usually goes in favor of the heavyweight for the women’s tour. But hitting harder can also lead to more errors and the heavyweight defeating themself if they’re off. Gonzalez would be the #1 player in the world if heavyweights ruled the game.


Giner Says:

Well surprise surprise..

Q. How is your health? Did you feel a hundred percent?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely not a hundred percent at all. Not at all.

Q. 90?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. It was probably at 40 or 50 max.

Q. Are you amazed how well you played?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Considering my circumstances, my leg, and most of all having no backhand and no shot, I think I did pretty well. I think it’s just if I’d have been healthy, I think I would have won, a hundred percent.


samps Says:

Indeed Gilner!
I feel off my chair laughing on this one after venus’ win over sharapova….

Q. There was some speculation that her(Serena’s) injury wasn’t as severe as it was.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, last time I checked, though, it was. I think Serena has always proved to be the ultimate sportsperson. She gives credit when it’s due. She doesn’t complain. She wins most of the time.

When she loses, she takes her loss and learns from it. Throughout history, Serena has been a wonderful sportsperson. I think everyone in here knows that. Anyone who would suggest that is clearly ignorant, so I’m definitely offended. ”

Thus spoke the second worst loser of all time ( With “wonderful sportsperson” Serena being first of course!)

And grendel I think a fully fit Henin can handle a fully fit serena on grass except as JCF said, the latter being impossible. And what you said about the second set pretty much sums it up.

Oh Btw…how this last comment by Serena…

Q. Do you think you lost to the eventual Wimbledon champion, or do you see your sister beating her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: The eventual Wimbledon champion I saw playing in their fourth round today, definitely.


anthony Says:

gamesmanship by Serena? No gamesmanship is defaulting the aussie final just before you lose, gamesmanship is lying in front of the world in the 03 french open semi about putting up your hand.

Henin is a magnificent player, why does she feel the need to use these tactics?

Justine played perfect tennis today and deserved her win but Serena was obviously not 100% even the tv commentators were remarking about how little power she had on her backhand.


Dr. Death Says:

I guess the results are in on Serena! But her poor thumb. Just like life, always something.


grendel Says:

I am inclined to go along with you, Samps, about the Williams sisters, and even more about their appalling, limelight hugging father, who’s about as disingenuous and downright dishonest, in fact, as they come (as opposed to the mother, who is an appealing figure). That’s with my heart. Brother, are they annoying. But with my head, a little doubt creeps in. I think the sisters genuinely believe they are the best when they are playing at their best, and are not just indulging in childish boasting – and, you know, it’s not altogether easy to deny it. When Venus crushed Sharapova today, she was pretty awesome. Sharapova is in absolute denial at the moment, and who can blame the poor kid. Her bubble is finally blown, I’m afraid. It remains to be seen if Venus can keep it up. And Serena just is not the player she was 3 or so years ago. Then, in the opinion of many experts, she threatened to be the best ever. From her point of view, it must be incredibly frustrating that she can no longer bring to bear the game she once had in her. Has she lost it for ever? Deep down, she must wonder, and for such a supremely self-assertive person, that must be bewildering. So I don’t know. They’re a puzzling pair, the Williams sisters. One thing’s for sure: for better or for worse, we’ll never see their like again. They are infuriating, never to be taken at face value and – let’s face it – magnificent oddities. Perhaps we should grit our teeth and try to enjoy them!


Mark Says:

Serena Williams, you’re as embarrasing as you are predictable. There was no way she was ever going to give credit to Henin. Or anyone else. It’s just not in her to admit someone else was better. And that’s not a strength – it’s just breathtaking arrogance and a deficit in her humility account.
For Williams to claim she was at 40-50% while still taking Henin (No.1 + 6x Slam champion) to 3 sets is just plain insulting…and wrong. Can you imagine any of THE GREATS coming up with that sort of crap? Would Graf or Navratilova or Austin or Sampras or Federer ever think it let alone say it? Nothing can change the fact that Serena Williams is a champion tennis player. But her self belief has been groomed and fed so much (media sycophants, you let her spew unchallenged), it has bloated into one hell of an ugly personality.


Steven Says:

Grendel,
Justine admitted to a lack of belief as the main reason for her loss to Serena in Miami. She also said she is dealing with those demons. She has finally beaten Serena on Serena’s favorite service, and is now free to swing away. Also, it has been noted by more than one commentator, that Justine has gotten into Serena’s head. Serena is just as afraid of Henin…you see something in her eyes that isn’t there when she plays the other girls. She has taken bad losses, and they have left their mark. As far as heavy-weight vs light-weight…….Roger Federer is a slender figure of a man compared to
a lot of the guys, and it isn’t hurting him a bit. Tennis isn’t wrestling or boxing, or they would have weight divisions.


Steven Says:

Oh the subject of “the hand”, which has been sooooo over-talked it’s ridiculous, a bit of clarity. I have never heard Henin asked is she did or did not raise her hand. Perhaps I missed it. But I have never heard her say…”I didn’t raise my hand”. Also, Justine, like Mauresmo, continues to raise her hand….when she is getting set to receive serve. The raised hand is meant to say “slow down” not “stop”. Watch her matches carefully. She does it all the time, and the server understands what she is trying to communicate. Mauresmo did the same several times this past week. The “raised hand” thing was so over-blown.


Giner Says:

I think Venus is actually playing much better than Serena this tournament. The Shriekapova rout tells me she will be a big obstacle for Henin (I expect Henin to beat Bartolli for a place in the final). Much bigger obstacle than Serena.

I have to wonder though.. just in case. Does Venus have any injuries or fitness problems?

If you lost because you weren’t fit (and would have won if you were) then get fit, or shut up.


anthony Says:

Q. What did you think of the quality of her game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought she played a very high quality game. I thought she played probably some of her best tennis.

just thought I’d add this since no one ever notices that Serena does actually admit that others play well but the ones who hate her sweep it under the carpet.


Leo Says:

Woooooohoooooooooooo!

Who cares if Serena was or was not 100%. I have never heard her say she was 100% after any loss. If Justine did not get all nervous this match would have been over in 2 sets.

Serena is a great tennis player, no doubt. But what a pathetic, delusional human being! Has absolutely no class whatsoever.

The stupid cow should lose 50 lbs and just get on with it…. maybe she wouldn’t injure herself so much.


grendel Says:

Oh, and JCF, Henin was clearly the superior player in the second set, until she choked and her serve disintegrated – in more guarded language, Henin confirmed this herself in post match interview. She choked again in the third set, but this time – being two breaks ahead – she had time to recover, which she did – just. Clearly touch and go with the nerves, which is why it was, in the end, so gutsy. Perhaps, JCF, you are a bit confused as to just when you fell asleep.

And, anthony, yes I noticed that comment of Williams. But I am afraid things are not quite as they seem. Both Williams sisters are perfectly willing to give credit to their opponents, in fact it is important to do so, since this highlights their own achievements – not much credit in defeating the second rate, is there. But what they will never do – and you saw no hint of it in the Serena comment – is admit second best.
Meanwhile, much hilarity about the Williams hand injury. But fair’s fair. It did inhibit her, didn’t it, her backhand obviously was impaired. It is part of Serena’s makeup – her “stellar” complex (she actually used that word to dismiss Michael Stich’s accusation of self dramatising) – that she harps on it to the exclusion of everything else. It’s childish in almost an innocent way, and you kind of worry for her as she gets older, and the big losses become more frequent – will she be able to handle it? There’s a potential basket case looming here.


Giner Says:

As if Serena is going to admit her conqueror played less than her very best. That’s what it takes to beat Serena. But I can tell you, the 2nd and 3rd sets from Justine were hardly the ‘best tennis of her life’.

It’s normally a case of “she played the best she could possibly play (but still not actually good), while I was at 10% fitness”.


the kiwi Says:

its hard 2 say if serena williams can win another and the last grand slam of the year the us open to win the australian open.i dont think she can win the last 1 for the year the us open because i know she was rasied to be a hardcourter but her favourite from my thoughts is grass and rebound ace dont ya think.if i could predict though anyone of the grand slams that serena williams could win next year it would probably be the australian open or hopefully wimbledon is more like her style.

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