There was some inkling going in that it might be a tough day for the coming 11-time combined champion Williams sisters at Wimbledon. Serena was up against Christina McHale who had taken a set off her in Miami and pushed her to a tiebreak in Rome. And the second round match lived up to the billing.
Serena lost a sloppy first set after missing some chances, then found her groove in the second before sinking again going down a quick break in the third. Serena got mad, then turned on the jets to run away with the match 7-7(7), 6-2, 6-4 for her ninth straight win at Wimbledon.
“I think it was pretty good, you know, especially in the second set at least,” Serena said. “She played better than I’ve ever seen her play before. She was just hitting line shots from the first point to the last.
“It was good for me to get through that.”
She closed the match in typical Serena style, smacking three straight aces.
“I felt like I was definitely in warrior mode. I was out there playing for my life at that point, trying to play to stay in the tournament.
“There were times where I was down and out. I just kept fighting. That’s what I know I can do best. I knew that I could count on that, rely on that.
“I’m proud of how I closed it out that last game, I thought it was a very strong game. Being able to get through that match, it wasn’t easy, but I was able to get through it.”
Serena will move on to meet Annika Beck of Germany on Sunday. But the match showed again Serena is vulnerable. The question is, can anyone take advantage?
While Serena had her struggles on Center, on Court 1 Venus was in a deep battle with 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina. The young Russian who beat Venus earlier this year in Auckland was once again pushing the 5-time champion around.
After splitting the first two sets, Kasatkina led by a break in the third mid way. Venus came back and held a match point in the 15th game before the skies opened up for 1,432,794th time during the match. Upon return, the 36-year-old failed to convert but eventually closed it out for a tough 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 win.
“There was honestly such a roar in the crowd – I thought, did someone faint? Are there rats in the stadium?” Williams said of the deluge on matchpoint. “That actually happened to me once, there was a rat in the stadium. I didn’t know what was happening. All of a sudden the rain came. I thought, really? But I felt really confident coming back out at match point. I felt like I could take it. But she played too well.”
Venus, who won singles and doubles yesterday, now gets a well-earned break before playing singles again in the fourth round on Monday against Carla Suarez Navarro. She’s lost to the eventual champion the last two years, and despite her age she’s proven again she’s a tough out.
Also getting wins in between the rain drops were Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Strycova.
Three second round matches including 2-time champ Petra Kvitova (down a set) and Sloane Stephens were suspended due to the rain.
Tomorrow we’ll see Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys and Eugenie Bouchard who meets Dominika Cibulkova as the tournament tries to finish the second round and half of the third.
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