My Post-Match Report [1r: Serena Williams vs. (27) Mara Santangelo]
Serena Williams won 6-2 6-1.
Serena started her Australian Open 2007 campaign in a bright lime green one-piece skirt. A full house audience in Rod Laver Arena suggested that the world was anxious to know whether this former champion still has it or is a "has been". The scoreline suggested that it was a good win, but Serena did struggle at the beginning.
Serena started the match with an ace followed by a double fault then another ace. And her shaky performance went on for the first 4 games. She did not get many first serves in, and her returns were weak. At times she looked nervous at the net. However, Mara did not jeopardize Serena's "shakiness" and wasted her chances by missing easy shots and spreeing UEs all over the place when she looked like she was in control. The two players held serve until the sixth game, when Mara lost her service game with another UE.
Then the turning point of the match came. Followed by the break were 3 solid aces from Serena who held the next game at ease. Serena looked more confident and took the first set with another break.
Mara's loss was almost inevitable when she let Serena play herself into the game. In the second set, Serena raced to a 3-0 leads by getting her return games together. Serena leveled her return game in the second set, and her baseline strokes became more solid and damaging. The fact that Mara couldn't cut down her UEs helped Serena too. Serena carried on with her momentum and closed out the second set with an ace.
Serena's form definitely looked better than last year. Shot-wise, she was still looking rusty at some shots, but physical-wise she had definitely got herself into a better form. Her movement was so much smoother than that of US Open last year. She did not struggle to run down shots and her heavy breathing was not seen today. At some points she almost moved like Clijsters.
We still don't have an answer to whether she is back to her champion form yet, but she showed positive changes and moving pass the 2nd round should be a safe bet. However, the real challange awaits her in the 3rd round where she could face 5th seed Nadia Petrova, and that match should tell whether returning back to the top is just a wish or a fact.
Last edited by starred06; Jan 15th, 2007 at 09:55 AM.