"HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL - VENUS" "YOU CAN DO IT" "LET'S GO GIRL"
Venus Williams wants to break her serve speed barrier / AP.
Venus' need for speed
January 22, 2003
A BORED Venus Williams feels the need for speed and has vowed to chase a personal record in the tournament's closing days.
Williams, seeking an incentive amid the straight-sets romps, wants to break her 205km/h fastest serve on the way to a first Australian singles crown.
The world No.2 nearly sent the centre court timer into meltdown with a booming 201km/h ace in the eighth game of the second set as she powered to a 6-4 6-3 victory over gallant if helpless young Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in their quarter-final yesterday.
It's the first time a women player has burst through the 200 barrier since service speeds have been clocked at Melbourne Park.
She pounded down a 197km/h serve at last year's Australian Open, the fastest on the women's tour last year, and set the 205 mark in Zurich in 1998.
"I didn't even know I served it. I was getting ready for the next serve, then I saw it [on the timer behind the court]. I guess the times that I serve the hardest is when I'm not trying," Williams said.
"Back when I was serving really big, I had the 205. I was always trying to serve really hard. So this tournament I did decide that I'm going to start trying to do that again.
"Nowdays, I just go for placement and, of course, power. When I hit it, it just kind of comes that fast. Now I'm going to start trying to see if I can serve it even bigger than the record."
Williams has yet to even come close to conceding a set in the tournament and it seems inevitable that she will be Saturday's finalist from the bottom half of the draw.
"I did get here a little early, I arrived on Wednesday (before the tournament). I practised hard, I really didn't want to lose. Maybe that's the recipe," she said.
Hantuchova never stood a chance against the second seed's awesome power and the world No.8 was never really a threat despite twice breaking serve.
The free-swinging Williams crunched ground-stroke winners that left the fans gasping at the incredible power.
Even Mark Philippoussis couldn't have found another gear for one cross-court forehand return in the game prior to the 201km/h serve. The ball scorched past Hantuchova in a blur before the Slovakian teenager had time to move forward after the second serve.
"Yeah, I just took that one from Serena, I think. She hits that a lot," Williams said.
"At that point I just wasn't thinking about it too much. I just hit the shot instead of trying to analyse it so much beforehand. That works a lot better. It was nice."
Hantuchova said the positive to be salvaged from the wreckage was to emphasise that she must build more power into her fluent ground strokes.
"Right now it's all about power because I think my tennis is there. But it's just sometimes so fast that I can't do anything about it," she said.