It’s Serena Day in Australian Open Day 2
THE second day of the Australian Open belongs to World Number one and Top woman seed, Serena Williams, as she took on Allison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, ranked 106 in the WTA rankings. She is a tall, 20-year old Belgian who speaks 5 languages, and has a big serve and powerful forehand.
The draw had placed her in a pressure-cooker, facing a Champion on all surfaces and winner of previous 5 titles in Melbourne.
Serena served first and took the first game. She broke Allison in the second game to lead 2games to love. Serving at 40-30 in the third game, Serena doublefaulted. She won the next point and sealed the third game with an ace.
The Belgian opened the fourth game with an ace. At 15-all Serena hit a down the line backhand winner. A net-cord gave Serena game point but Allison served a wide sliced serve to 30-40 and a 185km/hr serve to deuce.
There was hope of her getting on the score-board. It was not to be as Serena took the advantage point and Allison double-faulted to give Serena a 4-0 lead. Serena held her serve with an unreturrnable serve.
Serving to stay in the set, Allison hit a service winner to go up 15-0, then a forehand winner to 30-0. She lost the next point and Serena leveled at 30-all. A double-fault gave Serena set point which she claimed when Allison hit a backhand wide to hand Serena the first set in 21 minutes. In that set Serena hit two aces, as did the Belgian.
The difference was that Serena made only 4 unforced errors. She won all points when she made her first serve in which she had a 47 percent.
Serena opened serving and won it without losing a point. Were we going to have another bagel set? No. The Belgian won the first point of the second game and followed with a forehand winner with a wide serve that pulled Serena off the court. She won the game when Serena hit a backhand out.
The crowd roared in the hope of getting a contest and their money’s worth. Their expectation was consolidated when Serena lost the opening point of her serve in the third game. The tested Champion hit a backhand winner down the line.
Then followed an ace serve. At 40-30, there was a long rally but it ended in Deuce. Serena hit two aces back to back to claim the game with a scream of relief and clenching of fist.
The crucial fourth game presented a contest.
The Belgian lost the first point on her serve but leveled at 15-all. She went down at 15-30 but leveled to 30-all and then a forehand winner to game point. But Serena fought back to level it to Deuce.
However Allison took the advantage and the game to level at two games apiece. Serena hit three aces to claim the fifth game. The Belgian held to level at 3 all with a serve into Serena’s body; a tactic that earned her many points in the contest. The seventh game was long drawn as Serena faced a tough challenge but she held to lead 4-3. At game point in favour of the Belgian, she hit a drop-shot which Serena chased but missed and fell flat on the court.
This generated anxiety over likely injury. However, she served convincingly and took the 9th game. Serving to stay in the match, Allison took the first point but Serena hit a down the line forehand winner to reach match point which she clinched with a backhand winner. The Champion served seven aces in the second set.
In the post- match interview on court, Serena was asked about the match and the thought of winning her 19th Grand Slam Tournament. She acknowledged that there was some adrenalin as it was her first major after the experiences of last year. She gave credit to her opponent; that Allison played well especially in the second set after recovering from the jitters of the first set and “finding her mark”. Yes, the possibility of the Grand Slam lurked in her mind, but it was a long way as she had much work ahead and she would just enjoy herself.
Asked about the Nike outfit revealing her back, she explained that the theme of the designer in 2015 was to reveal the back of women in power; so “this year, you all will see my back.” Yes, but not the back of her illustrious career!