I will love how the final goes no matter what. I am proud of them getting there. Yet - I would love it if they both came out in a Serving duel that wouldn't quit and made most of their serves. 6-6 - 6-6 - 8-6. Wow - what a final!
Needless to say - I hope they cut down even furthur on the ues.
"WAY TO GO - VENUS & SERENA" "BRING IT ON HOME TO DADDY"
Aussie backdrop to Williams show
By BRUCE MATTHEWS
WITH bleached blond hair, silver eyebrow ring and zany humour, it didn't surprise that Australian tennis player Mark Hlawaty is fitting easily into the glitzy Williams world.
Behind the non-conformist eccentricity is a fine ball-striker who instinctively knows the practice requirements of the top women competitors.
Melbourne-born Hlawaty, who has lived in Perth for 11 years, linked up with Monica Seles and Martina Hingis as a hitting partner for past Australian campaigns.
The partnerships were so successful the Williams sisters snapped him up this year.
Just in time, too. At 32, the same age as Andre Agassi, he has tossed in coaching to go back on the tour for a final two-year fling.
Hlawaty has already won a singles title in just his third tournament, beating Wimbledon junior champion Todd Reid in the final on grass at Barmera in South Australia in November after coming through the qualifying rounds.
But the comeback is on hold while he prepares Venus and Serena to square off today against each other for the Australian Open singles title.
"They are fairly similar styles, I think Serena hits it a little flatter off the ground. I wouldn't say they are clones, but they are very similar in what they do. Big off the first serve, both return great," Hlawaty said. "That's the other side that's different to so many of the other girls, they do return the ball so early.
"As soon as you hit the serve, the next shot is coming straight back at you. You are under the pump from the very first ball unless you come up with a quality first serve. Both have similar requirements and the difference comes more so if one of them is playing a different style of opponent.
"If someone is slicing a lot, like Serena's first match against (Emilie) Loit, the French girl. We did work a lot hitting a lot of slices to her."
Serena is a self-proclaimed perfectionist while Venus is more relaxed. But the unpredictability keeps their Aussie hitting partner literally on his toes, such as the dovetailed practice sessions before their semi-finals on Thursday.
"When we were doing some ball-feeding to Venus out of the basket, she wanted to make sure she finished with it being spot on and feeling good," Hlawaty said.
"Venus jumped on first for about 45 minutes and then Serena came on when Venus's time was up. So it basically ended up being about two hours of work.
"They want to make sure when you're hitting with them that you get a lot of balls back and don't make too many mistakes. You have to do everything you can so that when they go out to play, they are in the right frame of mind and ready to rumble.
"They are definitely the benchmark with their power, that's for sure. The other one who came close was Monica.
"They hit the ball so hard and so consistently, you wonder how far you would have to go down the rankings for them to be competitive against the men."
Hlawaty was a tough opponent on the satellite circuits in the 1980s, playing finals against the calibre of Mark Kratzmann.
"If I can pay my way in two years, I'll be happy. I'm too old to do anything great. Everyone has said maybe I'm crazy, but it's a challenge. If the worse comes to the worse, I've gone out and done something I want to do," he said.
So who will hold aloft the winner's trophy on Rod Laver Arena this afternoon?
"Once it's game time, the game face will go on and it will be just another opponent with no holds barred. Once the match finishes, it's straight back into family mode. It's an amazing ability," he said.
"I reckon it will be 22-20 in the third set, 17 hours long, or it could go for three days. Going on the semis form, you would say Venus looked a little sharper. But, with the day's rest, who knows. My prediction: a Williams will win it."
Jan 24th, 2003, 08:55 PM
I think they will. There matches have improved in excitement steadily. I am hoping it goes to a 3rd set and Venu wins 10-8.
Jan 24th, 2003, 08:57 PM
I expect a good, but not all that memorable final. I'm not sure Venus has shaken herself out of 'big sisterhood' yet.
Jan 24th, 2003, 09:03 PM
I agree with Volcana, it'll the be good but not spectacular
But i think Venus will take it 6-4 7-6 something around there
Jan 24th, 2003, 09:06 PM
I do declare but Venus thinks like me. I also felt that if Serena could hold serving 1-5 - then there was hope - no matter how slight. It's no wonder Venus continues to keep me in awe.
The Williams sisters continue to make history. For the first time, the same two women will play in four straight grand slam finals. For both, it is the first time they have reached the final in Australia. In previous years here there have been sprained ankles and some horrendous matches.
I have always thought there has been a surface issue. The Rebound Ace seemed to beat up their bodies. They have played better this year than any other year. Both have done a good job learning from their mistakes.
They now have a physical trainer, Terry Brooks, who travels with them. They stretch enough, if they have a hint of injury they take care of it. This is important because they are so physical, more physical than any other woman, so physical it's violent.
Physically and mentally, they take turns to lift. At the end of 2001, when Venus won her second US Open in a row, she had a new kind of belief in big tournaments, then it was Serena's turn. Physically and tactically, they dominate the other women. They are also mentally and emotionally stronger and that showed when Serena came back against Kim Clijsters.
Who is going to win the mental battle this year? I think both take pressure into today's final.
Serena's is right in front of her face: so few people have held all four grand slam titles at once. She has been sitting on top of the world for seven or eight months and it's interesting to see how a champion wears the crown.
Venus' pressure is: "I have to get back to No. 1 in my family, I have to beat my younger sister."
Siblings have been in tennis since racquets were invented but I have never seen two sisters so close in ranking, talent and the whole thing. Yesterday, they won their second Australian doubles title and spent the whole day together. I've seen them practice together before a grand slam final and assume they will today.
Serena has handled that better. You want Venus to be more angry. Serena won all four meetings last year, in straight sets. Venus should be angrier. Instead, she says: "I feel it's fortunate that Serena wins if I don't. It's great for the Williams sisters."
That said, Venus has had a more solid championship. Her semi-final win against Justine Henin-Hardenne was easier. I think it's time for Venus to win. She needs to come to the net, make her sister play passing shots, not be shy and retreat.
You feel it's like a boxing title, you have to knock out the champion. I wouldn't bet on it, but sooner or later Venus will beat her little sister again.
Venus seeks to shine again
January 25 2003
By Linda Pearce
It was less than eight months ago that Oracene Williams stood with a group of journalists in the Roland Garros player restaurant and abandoned her lifelong policy of refusing to play favourites. She has five daughters, two of whom play tennis, often against each other.
But before last year's French Open final, Oracene admitted, just that one time, that she hoped Serena would win.
The youngest Williams had claimed the family's first grand slam title, three years previously at the United States Open, but the past four Williams majors had gone to Williams, V.
"This time, maybe I would like Serena to get one," Oracene told The Age, "because she hasn't got one since '99, and that's what she wants so badly."
The former Mrs Williams, who reverted to her maiden name of Price after her divorce last year, yesterday declined to be interviewed. Yet although she would almost certainly have refused to nominate a favourite for today's record fourth consecutive grand slam singles final between her daughters, events since that June day in Paris would seem to have left Venus in far greater need of maternal support.
Just as there is a fine line between coach and mother, player and daughter, winner and loser, there is also an inevitable difficulty in a situation such as this. Yet, despite the pre-match sensitivity and potential for conflict, Serena said her mother "doesn't necessarily quit altogether and say, 'I don't care'." Of course she cares - just not, usually, who wins.
So far, there have been five apiece, but Williams, S, has won the past four: in the semi-final at Miami and the finals at last year's French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Not since the 2001 US Open final, her last success, has Venus even won a set. Suddenly, Serena's childhood idol and protector needs to find a new approach against the sibling, 15 months her junior, who for so many years aped her every move.
Venus is the quieter, thoughtful, bookish sister; Serena more gregarious, feisty, aggressive. Venus has said that, even as a schoolgirl, Serena would flex her muscles at the other kids in the playground to frighten them. Lately, it has been Venus who has seemed slightly intimidated.
So much so that history beckons for Serena, whose chance is to become just the ninth woman to win each of the four grand slam titles, and the fifth to hold all four majors at once. A non-calendar slam - a Serena Slam - would emulate Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, while still leaving Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Graf as the only women to have won a true grand slam: the four majors in a calendar year.
The final is an Australian first for both sisters, although each has won four grand slam titles elsewhere.
"We are always battling our critics out there," Serena lamented yesterday.
"We never really get out to a strong start at the beginning of the year. And this is great for me because I have no points to defend. I think this is a great opportunity."
It is perhaps more urgent for Venus, who this time has enjoyed an easier passage through the draw, having spent 86 minutes less on court and lost 14 fewer games. Serena insisted before the tournament began that her sister was a certainty to reach the final and, indeed, the only set Venus has dropped was yesterday on the doubles court.
Serena, in contrast, started with a three-set struggle against Frenchwoman Emilie Loit, and almost ended with the bang of three popped blisters in Friday's semi-final against Kim Clijsters. Yet, from 1-5 down, the top seed monstered a shaky Clijsters to take the third set 7-5. Back in your place, Kimmy.
But not before two match points had come and gone, and only four women in Australian championship history have been to the brink and survived to lift the trophy. The last was Jennifer Capriati, who saved four championship points in her epic final against Martina Hingis last year.
Hingis, incidentally, has been sadly missed this year, for her touch, and variety, and candid nature, but she would not have made a dent on the Williams' progress to a final that only Clijsters - and, oddly, Loit - had the power to prevent.
Still, there has been some testiness over repeated questions about the gap between the top two and the rest in the women's game, how vast it is, and whether and how it is being bridged. Would the players prefer to be asked about family squabbles and sexual fantasies? If legitimate tennis questions are off the agenda, then what next? Certainly, we have heard enough about spangly bra straps, lovingly hand-glued.
One minor change, though, has been Venus' greater willingness to come to the net, if not always convincingly. Short balls may be less frequent against Serena than lesser opponents, but the second seed has promised that "when I have a chance, I'll try".
With a serve that reached 201 kmh against Daniela Hantuchova, there appears to be ample ammunition.
Tactics are not mentioned in the house the sisters share in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and tennis is also an apparently infrequent subject.
Venus planned to speak to her mother, and call her father, Richard, on one of Serena's many mobile phones before a match that she hoped "would be different than the last three".
The first was at Roland Garros in early June, where Oracene was asked to capture the essence of her two youngest daughters in one or two words. She declined at first, then offered the following: "Venus is an intellectual thinker," she said, "and Serena is a power-grabber."
The time has come for Venus to wrench back what she now wants so badly. And it is hard to imagine that Oracene, if only privately, would disapprove.
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Jan 24th, 2003, 11:41 PM
Originally posted by Naldo
it's gonna be a very blah match
I can only shake my head in amazement!!! You really don't need to watch "a blah match, now do you??? Begone with you!!!:( :( :( :(
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:07 AM
At least Naldo didn't call Serena a bitch this time...
I am rooting for Serena and the Serena Slam; usually I root for Venus against Serena (last Wimby was an exception).
I am sure that if it is an exciting final the haters will claim it was boring anyway (or fixed).
There is no pleasing the moaners so prepare for the whining threads.
They are inevitable.
So just sit back and enjoy the 2 greatest players adding the final piece to the Sister Grand Slam.
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:17 AM
Psychology works in very strange ways.
Suppose we end up with a combined 60 winners and 60 UE's. Normally, we would say it was a pretty good match given the game style of the sisters. Yet, some will remember mostly the winners (specially if they were spectacular) and others, mostly the UE's. As a result, we will get very different reports and reactions.
Now imagine the case where the above numbers ended up uneven, say, more UE's than winners. The spectrum of reactions can go wild.
In the end, I think, it matters a lot whether you like the sisters or not.
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:23 AM
I think it also matters when those UE take place
if after 15 strokes someone plunks a forehand into the net or out wide, its still a good point, but if its a UE right of the return, then its not that good
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:49 AM
I hope its a good final. I'm not watching it live, cause I'm tired of being disappointed. Only a good match deserves to be watched, IMO
Jan 25th, 2003, 01:09 AM
When those UE's take place is very important...especially during game and break points. Conversion is the major key here. Even if one of them plays pretty well but sloppily on the big points, you can still end up with quite lopsided scores. And then the haters will say that it was a very boring match.