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Serving Notice 06/27/2010 - 10:07 AM

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by Bobby Chintapalli, Contributing Writer

If Serena Williams wins Wimbledon, I’ll remember Dominika Cibulkova’s smile. The way she was beaming during the handshake after her third-round match against Serena you’d think she won, maybe even served up a bagel along the way. (She lost 6-0, 7-5.) I can only guess what the smile was about, and I’m going with disbelief and relief. Disbelief that Serena served like that, relief that finally it was over.

I saw the stats before I saw the match. They showed that Serena served 20 aces. I was suspicious, because who does that?  Not Lucie Hradecka, I knew; she served the most aces in one WTA match this year, but that was a mere 18 in a French Open first-round match against Alexandra Dulgheru (Hradecka lost). Not even Serena Williams, I thought; she served 17 in that I’m-awake-now-and-ready-to-play Australian Open quarterfinal win over Victoria Azarenka. To make things more perplexing the stats showed Serena served no double faults. (Incidentally the Wimbledon website’s match stats, which first showed 20 aces for Serena, now show 19; I counted 20. They also show 13 aces for Cibulkova, and that’s not close to true, by my count.)

I also read Serena’s presser before I watched the match, and her words suggested she had a good serving day, even by her standards. She wasn’t thrilled with her whole performance, but she was happy about the same thing that stood out in the stats: “Serving that well feels awesome… I wish I could serve like this every tournament.”

The only thing left to do was watch the match. And count. The aces were there all right, all 20 of them. Watching Serena in that match I didn’t think of those things I call her out for off the court, not even about that "strawberries and cream" tennis kit or those eye-popping nails. I thought about that all-powerful serve. What must it be like to possess a shovel you know can dig you out of almost any hole, and for your opponent to know it too? It was the most dominating WTA serving I’ve ever seen.

First Set (6-0, 6 aces)

The serveathon began as you’d expect – with Serena serving an ace, about as out wide as you could go. A point later she served another ace, about as down the middle as you could go. Six games and 18 minutes later, the first set was over. Cibulkova had won one point on Serena’s serve, and Serena had racked up six aces.

“As a player you just feel so helpless playing against a player like Serena when she’s playing this well,” said ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez of Cibulkova. “It’s crossing her mind right now that this could be a love and love match.”

Second Set (7-5, 14 aces) 

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Things changed some in the second set though. Cibulkova showed she “packed a punch”, as Serena put it. She served better and went for her shots more. (Billie Jean King cautioned Serena that if an opponent gets bageled “you’ve got to expect them to really come out loose, like they have absolutely nothing to lose.”) Serena made a few more unforced errors and didn’t return serve as well.

But her serve never went away, not to Hawaii or anywhere. She served two aces in every game except one – in that one, she decided to serve four. By the end of the second set she’d served 14 more aces, taking her match total to 20. ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Dick Enberg couldn’t help but feel for the unwitting participant in Serena’s serving practice.

Enberg: “This is a heavyweight fighting a bantamweight.”
Fernandez: “My goodness – this doesn’t seem fair sometimes.”

Cibulkova, like Azarenka at the Australian Open, seemed calmer than you’d expect. She twirled her racquet, bounced around, prepared for every serve like she had a shot at it. If it was another ace, she walked quickly to the other side of the court and started her routine all over again. A few times she shrugged, threw her hands up or looked up at the sky or her box, but for the most part she seemed resigned to her fate.

After 20 Aces

After match point it was Serena who looked annoyed. She looked at her box and shook her head slightly. A few minutes after walking off the court she said, “I served well in the second, and that’s about all I did well. Hopefully I can keep serving well, but I have to play better than I did today.” Surely she’s thinking about the level of tennis she’ll need to summon for her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova, the only former Wimbledon champion in the draw who’s not her sibling.

If Sharapova remembers one thing about this match – she’ll study it, won’t she? – it will be the 20 aces. They’ve taken Serena even higher on the ladies’ singles ace list. She now has 43 aces. That’s more than twice as many as Jarmila Groth, who’s in second place with 21, and more than Venus Williams, who served 18.

How does she do it? John McEnroe has commented that Serena practices her serve more than others do, in a way that others don’t. Maybe. And the serve seems too simple to be so effective, but is the simplicity the secret sauce? There are no long rituals beforehand, few retosses, hardly any moving parts. It’s toss, hit, ace… and, on a special day, repeat 20 times.


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Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 11:32 AM

Serving NOTICE, alright! What skill!!!!

Keep anything close to that going & the trophy is ours, baby Sis!

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 11:38 AM

"John McEnroe has commented that Serena practices her serve more than others do, in a way that others don’t."

All due respect to JMac, if that was all it took; if that was the secret--more players, men & women, would be able to display such serving brilliance. I fill it's more of a case of lesson learned, & perfected, a long long time ago.

It is far & away the most dominant weapon in the women's game.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 11:39 AM

Morning Bobby and Babe. You know every time that Serena is playing and she steps up to the line I am in awe of her. She just bounces the ball 2 or 3 times, throws it in the air and gives it a good whack. End of point.

I was listening to Martina's commentary on Serena's third round match and while Martina can be chatty I think she provides perfect analysis of matches. She said that she watched Serena's match from Centre Court yesterday, not in studio and she says one of the things that she is impressed with is Serena's hitting point. I am not well versed on technique as some are here but after listening to Martina, I decided to watch the replay of the Serena match and you can definitely hear that thwock sound when she hits the ball.

Martina says when Serena is hitting the ball well you hear the hitting point and it is such a beautiful sound. I know that when I am playing well and I am timing the ball well I can actually hear that thwock sound which means that I am hitting the ball cleanly.

Martina says it is the same thing with Serena's serve. She has great timing and rhythm on the serve and that is why she usually hits the ball cleanly which accounts for her accuracy when serving. It is very nice to see indeed.

Posted by Neveah 06/27/2010 at 11:41 AM

The best serve in the women's game for sure. If she keeps serving like this, I don't see anyone beating her. I'm looking forward to Monday, I have absolute confidence in Serena's game so I'm not worried about any opponent.

Thank you for this post Bobby, I love it! ;)

Posted by Master Ace 06/27/2010 at 11:48 AM

Thanks Bobby for another good thread. The second set against Dominika will only help Serena stay more focused starting with her match tomorrow against Maria.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:04 PM

I thought I would take a gander over to the Wimbledon website to look up the serve stats of the players going into the round of 16 and I noticed that they actually have a stat for double faults. The top 18. Leading the charge through 2 rounds is Rezai, and there are others who have reached the round of 16 that have some serious issues with their serve. Sharapova has hit 10 so far, Kanepi, 16, Zvonreva, 13, Jankovic, 11, Kvitova, 11.

There is also a stat for first serve percentage leaders. Of those in the top 20 only 2 made it through to the round of 16: Radwanska and Wozniacki.

Now on the crucial stat, break points won, most of those who are in the round of 16 are very good at breaking serve. At the top is Zakapolova, followed by: Jankovic, Venus, Petra, Groth, Henin, sharapova, Kanepi, Serena, Radwanska, Zvonreva and Clijsters.

Now it is one thing to break serve, but how often do you do it when you get the chance. The leader in that stat of those players who have made the round of 16 is Serena, followed by Groth. Serena is 13/21 and Groth is 14/23.

I would say from those stats that Serena is not only serving well, but she is returning exceptionally well. Groth seems to be doing the same thing. I have not seen any stat in terms of holding serve, but I am sure it is there.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:12 PM

Yes, in that second set--she lost a little intensity & I think that's why she was so upset with herself; because you could see, from round one, that her goal was to stay focused & keep her intensity--she let it slip & was very disappointed--because that set really should have ended a lot sooner than it did. But, I think it's good for her that it didn't--heading into the second week. She has played all week well w/i herself, but she pressed a little in the second yesterday. Tomorrow should be very interesting indeed.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:13 PM

OK, now I have taken a look at points won behind the first serve. Leading the charge is Serena, followed by Kanepi, Henin, Zvonreva, Venus, Bartoli, Groth, Clijster, Pironkova, Radwanska and last Wozniacki. Clearly, getting your first serve in is not a guarantee that you will win the point.

Now here is an even more interesting stat. Remember the saying that you are only as good as your second serve. The leader in players heading into round of 16 in points won behind the second serve: Li, Cijsters and Bartoli. None of the other women made this list.

Posted by Master Ace 06/27/2010 at 12:15 PM

Jamaica Karen,
Despite AB saying that Klara was a darkhouse, there were no hint of her going deep at Wimbledon as her favorite surface is clay which proves that it is about the luck of the draw. However, she did defeat Aravane in 3 sets and won easily over Flavia, who has never done well at Wimbledon.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:18 PM

Now, we turn to points won returning the first serve. The leader amongst those women heading into the round of 16: Jankovic, Radwanska, Groth, Henin, Sharapova, LLi, Venus, Kanepi and Pironkova.

Now we come to points won when returning the second serve. The leaders of those women heading into the round of 16: Zakapolva, Jankovic, Kanepi, Venus, Pironkova and Wozniacki.

Notice that Serena has not made the list on either winning return points on either first and second serve. What that does tell me though is that Serena while returning well and making the most of her opportunities is actually winning matches based on her own play, rather than what she gets from her opponents.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:19 PM

Great analysis, JK. I was suprised by "...most of those who are in the round of 16 are very good at breaking serve. At the top is Zakapolova, followed by: Jankovic, Venus, Petra, Groth, Henin, sharapova, Kanepi, Serena, Radwanska, Zvonreva and Clijsters."

I would never have guessed that Serena would be that far down the list. But then it makes sense that she's not creating the chances as often--because she goes for a lot; but I am much more gratified that when the chances do come, she takes them.

Very interesting--thanks.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:20 PM

MA, true that on Klara. I was quite surprised to see her in the second week of Wimbledon but we really should not have been seeing as she has been playing some really good tennis this season. I think it actually started last year in Marbella when she took out Serena, and then played her tough in the first round of the French a few months later. She has a deceptively good game and gets a lot of balls back and is in very good condition, fitness wise.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:22 PM

"Clearly, getting your first serve in is not a guarantee that you will win the point."

LOL...except IF your name is S. Williams.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:23 PM

Babe, you are welcome. I tend to think that Serena is the Mistress of her own domain in terms of winning matches. She hits big, takes chances and just really goes for more. I cannot think that her return game is that poor and that she has not made it in the top 10 on return points won seeing as she has not been broken this tournament, and has bagelled each of her first three rounds in the first set. It could mean that as soon as she gets a break she takes it, or it could mean that she is making a lot of opportunities go abegging.

I do not think the match against Sharapova is going to be a walk in the park as some are implying. The first 2 or 3 games will give us an idea as to whether it will be a beatdown or a long, drawn out fight.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:27 PM

These lady-"clay-courters" have been playing very well this Wimbledon with their tricky shots--that young lady, another Ova, drove madam SCREACHER (the main Ova) nuts yesterday. They seem to know how to use your pace against you. It has been indredible to watch. If they could serve they would be a bigger hill to climb.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 12:28 PM

Notice to NBC, the Isner match is OVER, let's move on. Isner didn't win Wimbledon and I'm tired and bored seeing clips from this match. Let's see highlight from all the players. This is the same nonsense they did with Oudin at the USO, one player monopolizing the coverage. I thought we were safe from this when Isner returned to the states, but no here we're with this rerun. It was great for the sport, but enough. Move on!

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 12:31 PM

Serena is such a great server. I remember a Hopman Cup match she and Marty Fish played against Djoko and he was missing her serve.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 12:32 PM

Great post Bobby, I enjoyed this.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:36 PM

@SamE, I too am getting a little bit over the whole greatest match, but one thing you have to say it was a great day for our sport. It set 8 Guinness World Records and we can rest assured that it will never be broken, unless 2 enterprising journeymen decide to go all out and do a serve fest with the sole intention of breaking those records. I think that is why they are still hyping on it. The fact that it involved an American, who actually won the darned thing, plays even more into the media hype.

Until Wimbledon is over, and the US Open, and the Australian Open, and indeed on every surface on which Isner will play from hereonin, get ready to see snippets of the greatest snoozefest of all time. It was a captivating match insofar as the drama, but in terms of the tennis, it cannot live up to matches that did not go that distance.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:40 PM

"I do not think the match against Sharapova is going to be a walk in the park as some are implying. The first 2 or 3 games will give us an idea as to whether it will be a beatdown or a long, drawn out fight."

ICAM with all you have said. Sharapova is a fighter & she will leave it all out there--but I think, added to her problems, is the fact that she has a mental block sgsinst Serena. It won't help her resolve that she is very aware of how Serena is serving--that will put more pressure on her; she may feel like she will have to go for broke to have a chance tomorrow. Serena just has to play w/i herself--if she does, it won't be close. But, if she presses & gets all locked up, then it will be tougher. We will know in less than 24 hrs which one it will be.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 12:42 PM

Karen at the end of my post I said it was great for the sport. And I don't mind the hype about Isner because I think some of the praise of his game is accurate. I don't see him as the same as Oudin, I actually believe he could be a possible slam contender.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 12:42 PM

Yes Babe, in a few hours, we will all know. Man, I cannot wait. Getting palpitations already.

Posted by Ruth 06/27/2010 at 12:46 PM

Bobby: I'm thinking that, in addition to disbelief and relief, a certain amount of satisfaction with how well she played in the second set might have been responsible for some of that smile on Dominika's face. I have to admit that, in spite of Serena's 14 aces in the second set, when I was forced to leave the house at 9:30 am while the match was going on, neither my brother nor I was absolutely sure that we'd return to find that Serena had won or that she hadn't been pushed to 3 sets.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 12:47 PM

"...get ready to see snippets of the greatest snoozefest of all time."

AMEN! I also agree with Samantha--ENOUGH ALREADY! But, as you said JK, this is the American way: milk something for all it's worth over & over & over & over again--until we are all beaten into submission, screaming & begging; PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP!

Posted by AB 06/27/2010 at 12:49 PM

Hah, Master Ace, I don't know how dimly lit Zakapalova is, but I *did* call her my dark HORSE because I like to say her name out loud.

JamaicaK: always appreciate your tireless advocacy of the WTA. Stats are interesting, but I only focus on: 1st serve % and 2nd serve win% + ROS. If it's under 30% for men and under 40% for women it's mediocre.

I have to say, I like Serena's focus right now. She won't have to serve like she just did to win the whole thing. She really looks like she wants it. Monday's matches are going to be great.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 01:05 PM

AB, thanks. I think apart from Serena wanting to win this tournament, I think she also wants to make a statement about her own place in the history of the game. There were some in the media that the reason why Serena even regained the No. 1 ranking and indeed started to play well at Slams again was because Justine and Clijsters had retired, and Sharapova was out hurt.

Serena is now on a mission to show that nope, it is not because of anyone why I am dominating or not dominating, it is because I am that good. People tend to forget that in 2007 when Justine had those epic wins against Serena, it was when Serena was on her way back into the game. Not taking anything away from Justine, she played her heart out and those wins were well deserved. It forced Serena back into the gym and forced her to start working on her game in a more serious manner.

People also tend to forget that before those 3 matches in 2007 at the majors, Serena was leading the h2h against Justine and owned Clijsters and Sharapova had not beaten her since 2004.

I for one am happy that they are all out there playing well again. No excuses. A win is a win. A loss will be just that. It is good for the sport and the Tour when all the top players are playing at their best. It forces the rest of the Tour to come and play. We saw it happen on the men's Tour when Federer was at the top and we are seeing it now with Nadal. Venus and Serena have forced the women to work on their fitness, their games, their mental abilities (that was from Justine's press conference).

We see now players who are taking these things seriously. Remember when Jankovic's serve was a joke? Jankovic's serve is looking good now. She is also playing more doubles and being really aggressive off the ground. Look at Wozniacki. She was content to just keep the ball in play. Now, she has had to add more muscle to her frame in order to start serving big. She is getting to the net net more and being very agressive with the forehand. All in all very good for women's tennis.

Posted by vetmama 06/27/2010 at 01:09 PM

Babe
It's like listening to pop radio and finding a song you really really really love...and begin to hate within days because it's played every hour.

It's a way to rob the wonder from something wonderful.
---

Bobby,
I love the photo you chose. I think it's the epitome of Serena.

Awesome straight toss, fingers splayed perfectly, manicured acrylic nails (gotta have the bling!!!), and...the pinky nail fell off somewhere in the locker room.

Hee.:)

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 01:15 PM

Those 1/4 final losses to Justine, when put in perspective, were not what the media has been making them out to be...Serena lost at the French--very subdued, due to an unreported hamstring injury--fine, let's give Justine that one--it is clay. But she fell in the 4th at Wimby & fractured her thunmb--remember the slices everyone? Yet, she still managed to take it to 3: her goal, wear Justine down enough for Venus--& it worked. At the US Open, she hadn't played a match all summer--cos of the Wimby injury & the knee probem. She was not in match shape at all--yet, she almost sent that into a 3rd.

Those who want to claim that Serena is #1 because of the absence of Henin, Kim or Maria--are simply grasping at straws. All things being equal, Serena is head & shoulders above the rest. The truth is that Serena's return to form had more to do with Henin's retreat into sabbatical than anything else.

Posted by Babe 06/27/2010 at 01:19 PM

"Bobby,
I love the photo you chose. I think it's the epitome of Serena."

Yes, journalistic brilliance--that photo tells the whole story: Something so brilliant from something so simple.

Posted by Master Ace 06/27/2010 at 01:53 PM

Babe,
On Serena at Wimbledon in 2007, rememeber the rain saved her as she would have had to retire against Daniela prior to Justine.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 01:55 PM

Babe, totally agree. Serena won the majority of her majors while both Kim and Juju were in the draw. The failure to give the Williamses their just dues is prevalent among American commentators. Carillo: "This kid(Sharapova) is better." after Serena beat Sharapova at the AO. Austin, "Serena's run will come to an end with Maria." P-mac, "We know they can hit the ball hard, but now they have to learn how to play tennis." Considering this is the same P-mac who gave this excuse for Oudin loss "All the top players are gunning for her." Sure Patrick, the only problem is that when you go out in the first round of your last 5 touneys, you don't get to reach top players. Go figure!

Posted by Neveah 06/27/2010 at 02:02 PM

Karen and Babe - I really enjoyed "listening" to you ladies,and well said indeed.;) Thank you!

I've always been one to believe Serena at her best is better than anyone else and that it's always on her racquet.

I like Sharapova, she is one of the biggest fighters on the WTA and I respect her. I am interested to see how her serve holds up or if she starts throwing DF's in all over the place. If she get's the SereYips, its over fast. Her shoulder is fine so there will not be any excuses. I'm excited to see what happens.

Posted by temes 06/27/2010 at 02:34 PM

I believe the secret is Serena's serving motion. It looks perfectly fluid and natural and simple, like her body was meant for serving. lol It's the most beautiful serve I've seen, men or women. Funny how her sister is quite the opposite, despite having a very effective serve(especially at Wimby), Venus' serve often looks a bit awkward and every time she hits a second serve you get a feeling that this could be a double fault, with Serena it's rock solid.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 02:47 PM

LOL."like her body was meant for it." only you Temes, only you.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/27/2010 at 03:54 PM

Thanks Bobby Great post,

Well to me Serena has served notice,mind the pun.Her serve has been on song so far in this tournament.Its by far the best in the womens game.I love they way she just picks her spots with complete accuracy a joy to watch.

I always watch her eyes to me I can see everyrthing the determination etc.

I remember being at the final at this years AO I looked at the scrren often in that 3rd and final set she wanted it soo bad.Well we all know the outcome in that final.

Intertesting to seeher upcoming match with Maria.I feel she is well prepared.

Posted by Fedgirl 06/27/2010 at 03:55 PM

Sharapova will have to serve exceptionally well to have a chance against Serena. She will also have to make sure that she stays with Serena early on. If she goes down an early break, Serena might steamroll her. For Sharapova to win, she is going to need some help from Serena, as in having not such a good day. If both of them play at their best, Serena will win. Whenever Maria plays either Serena or Venus, it is a little bit out of her hands. They decide the outcome based upon the kind of day they are having.

Posted by Bobby 06/27/2010 at 04:09 PM

Hi, Guys. Thanks for the comments. I'm not sure what about Serena's technique makes her serve so amazing, but I enjoyed hearing your thoughts based on what you've seen and heard.

Jamaica Karen, those Martina Navratilova comments are great. (She's good, isn't she?) In fact I meant to watch this match a second time on Tennis Channel to see what she would say but didn't get to it; now I'm thinking maybe I should. By the way did you check out the stats from this match on the Wimbledon website? A few things on there are wrong, aren't they? For one thing, Cibulkova didn't serve 13 aces.

Ruth, you're right. Cibulkova must have felt satisfaction also, as she should. Losing by a score of 7-5 against someone who served 14 aces is something to be proud of.

vetmama/Babe, I loved the picture too. I knew right away that this was the right one. Funny about the pinky finger. :)

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 05:18 PM

Sorry for the delay in responding people. Should have informed you guys that I was going to be out for awhile at a funeral. One of my dad's former co-workers. They seem to be dropping like flies these days. They were all in the same age group so I guess it was inevitable, but still, makes you think about your own mortality.

@Bobby, yes the stats were very wrong for Cibulkova, and I am a little bit amazed that Serena was not in the list of those players winning points on the return of first and second serves, seeing as she has been breaking serve consistently. Do not understand that one. Martina hits the nail on the head most of the time when she is doing commentary. She lets you know what is working and what is not. I hope that I get to listen to her commentary during the Sharapova/Serena match.

@Babe (I think?) who said that Venus' serve does look like it has so many things wrong. Yes it does. As one of her biggest fans it pains me to say it but I hate when Venus has to hit a second serve. You just know it is going to be a run of the mill country club type serve or a double fault. However, this Wimbledon and even during the FO before her collapse at the feet of Petrova, her second serve seems to have developed some amount of kick to it. It is not a consistent kick along the lines of Serena or Stosur but it is there.

Another commentator that I love to listen especially the way she breaks down the mechanics of the game is Virginia Wade. Brilliant commentator, even though sometimes her voice does get on my nerves. She always has this "oh dear ... "

Posted by Pspace 06/27/2010 at 06:15 PM

I'm takin' it that y'all enjoy serve fests? ;-)

If the same stats had happened in the ATP, the description of the match would've been...boring!

Anyway, good on Serena...showing the rest of the tour how it's done. Her wide serve on deuce is almost unplayable.

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/27/2010 at 06:16 PM

It's been a long time since I heard anyone say that Serena was only at the top because Kim, Justine and Maria were out. Believe whatever you want, but I'm pretty sure Serena wants to be the best because she wants to be the best, not because there are people who think she's not. I think the main reason the absences of the non-Williams top players was brought up constantly was the string of relatively flash-in-the-pan #1s... Ivanovic, Jankovic, and then the whole slamless #1 Safina thing... all I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure anyone who isn't just an outright hater acknowledges that Serena is the best. You only have to look at her record, you know.

People here often ask things in disbelief (like, after Nadal's match yesterday), like, why does Nadal create so much vitriol, what has he ever done to you? I think when it comes to Serena, Venus and Nadal (not so much Roger because he's just soooo benevolent and likable) the disproportionate hate and ignorant things said about them is because they've won so much... the better you are the bigger the backlash.

Anyway... as for magnificent Monday at Wimbledon... I mean, I don't know what to think. All signs point to a complete beatdown occurring tomorrow on Centre Court at the hands of Serena Williams. Prior form this year, prior form this tournament, prior history between the players, everything... but if Dominika Cibulkova can be a point from forcing a tiebreak, SURELY Maria Sharapova can too, right? If she plays well, that is. I completely acknowledge what is likely to happen tomorrow, and yet I feel like I'd be the worst KAD in the world if I didn't hold out hope. It's not like Maria lacks for talent-- if all the WTA players play at their absolute best, with conditions and surfaces that favor their games, I honestly think the person right behind Serena and Venus is Maria. When her game is on, it's a force to be reckoned with. I don't care how beautiful Henin's backhand is and how much variety she has, there's nothing she can do when Serena, Venus or Maria crush deep winners at her feet all day.

So, I hope Maria wins. But I'm not being unrealistic about it. I mostly just hope it isn't embarrassing. Then again, I think Serena is pretty much a lock to win this tournament so far, so as long as there are no baked goods maybe it wouldn't be an embarrassment to lose anyway. And, compared to a year ago, losing to Cibulkova and Dulko at the French and Wimbledon, respectively, Maria has to like the fact that she won a small clay tournament, got to the final on a grass tournament, and lost to Henin and Serena on clay and grass, respectively, this year instead. She's going to lose tomorrow, but I like her chances in September if she stays in this form and either gets her ranking up before the US Open or gets a better draw than she's been having.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/27/2010 at 07:29 PM

LOLOL, vetmama, about the picture as the essence of Serena.

Bobby - Great read! I've always kind of taken Serena's serve for granted but trust, I will be paying closer attention to the sights and sounds tomorrow.

I, too, am curious about how Serena practices her serve differently from other players.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/27/2010 at 07:50 PM

sblily, Serena practices her serve by taking a truck load of balls and hitting serves all day long. Nothing else. Just serves. In her memoir she says that one of the reasons why her serve is good and stands up - she threw a football as a child. I have heard many posters here and also commentators who have played the game assert that her throwing arm as well as her serving arm have the perfect throwing technique, i.e. as in what makes a quarterback good - ability to throw the ball. That is what Serena has. Her ability to throw the ball.

Posted by Pspace 06/27/2010 at 07:52 PM

""I, too, am curious about how Serena practices her serve differently from other players.""

IIRC, Serena once said that she doesn't like to practice it too much, i.e., not over-think the motion (which is clearly the problem with ppl like Ivanovic and Safina). I guess there's no secret...she's a very talented player ;-).

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/27/2010 at 08:10 PM

JK/Pspace - Okay, that makes sense. Practicing vs. fumbling with/tinkering. It'd be interesting to see time-lapse footage of the service motions of various WTAers, just to see how some players' serves have changed over the years.

Posted by Ruth 06/27/2010 at 08:40 PM

Interesting what you said about the throw, JK. I'm thinking of how often Venus and other players have to catch their service balls and throw them a second time whereas Serena seldom does that.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 09:14 PM

Caro is the ONLY teen to make it to the second week, similar to what she did at the FO. Hmmmm! Du er den bedste Caro, Kom sa!

Posted by Master Ace 06/27/2010 at 09:18 PM

Samantha Elin,
Caroline opponent Petra is only 19.

Posted by Samantha Elin(Caro to the haters, Don't you wish your pusher was hott like me) 06/27/2010 at 09:19 PM

The WTA world site is reporting that Capriati was rushed to a hosipital after an over dose. Can anyone confirm this and do you know anymore about it? Thanks.

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/27/2010 at 09:25 PM

"Caro is the ONLY teen to make it to the second week, similar to what she did at the FO. Hmmmm! Du er den bedste Caro, Kom sa!"

Sam, I was going to ask this the first and second time you wrote something similar here, but I refrained. Third time = can't resist. Why, exactly, is it so important to you that Caro be the best of the teen players? I do have a genuine interest in knowing the answer to that, but I also ask it only to set up this remark-- the current veterans have been dominating the WTA for a decade, and it doesn't look like that's changing any time soon. Being the best of a certain group is only important if that group is winning big titles. The teens aren't winning anything important, so why is it so crucial to be the best of them?

Trust me, I appreciate being a HUGE FAN of someone as much as anyone (for reference, see every post I've ever made here that I find some way to tie to Maria), but by framing it the way you have it necessarily puts down other players to elevate Caro. She may not have won any big titles yet, but certainly she has done things that elevate her without putting others down that you can focus on instead. Indeed, I know she has, because you list them-- world's number 3, Scandinavia's #1, US Open finalist, etc. Those are positive things, focus on those instead.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 06/27/2010 at 09:25 PM

Thanks Patrick, I didn't know she was that young.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 06/27/2010 at 09:35 PM

Observer, the answer to your question is simple. For a long time, people have talked about young players like Sorana, Lisicki and Vika being better players than Caro, yet they don't have her achievement. I do it because Caro is NEVER given the credit she deserves which is that she is the best of ALL the new young player. Caro said it best, if she loses then she's not a good player, and if she wins, then it's because her opponent is weak. When she made it to the finals at the USO, people said that her draw was weak, not that she played well and earned the right to be a finalist. She's right, she can't win, no matter how many titles she win or how far she make it in the slams. Vika has half the titles of Caro, has never been pass the quarter of a slam, never been ranked top 5, but many people say she's better than Caro, yet she hasn't achieved has much. Caro is also made fun of and called Pushiaki. She deserve credit for what she has achieve.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 06/27/2010 at 09:38 PM

I'm not putting down other when I say she's the best of the young player, I'm making sure people recognize her achievements when she's constantly put down.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 06/27/2010 at 09:55 PM

When people say Roger is the GOAT, is that a put down of other players or is it a recognition of his achievements? I would argue for the latter.

Posted by Master Ace 06/27/2010 at 10:00 PM

Samantha Elin,
Just read the same thing about Jennifer on another site(not WTA website)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/27/2010 at 10:03 PM

Thanks Patrick. Capriati has had drug problems in the past, but I'll wait and see if this site confirm it.Sad if true.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/27/2010 at 10:24 PM

For Hingis and Kourinkova fans,This also from the WTA site: Hingis has confirm that she and Kournikova are talking about a comeback to doubles depending on how well they do at the legends they're playing. In contrast to single, I don't think you need a huge weapon or a great serve to be at the top so they might do well. Neither Black and Huber have big game and manage to be world's no 1.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/27/2010 at 10:26 PM

I think the pinky nail is there and painted in a strawberry/red color. I have no hard, factual evidence to back this up but floating somewhere in the area of my brain that holds pictorial memory, I seem to recall seeing something similar. Of course, trusting my memory is another story altogether. :))

Bobby, wonderful article. Thank you.

Posted by Texastennis 06/27/2010 at 11:20 PM

Saw the Capriati story too. I think she's been having some issues with depression more recently as well as the long ago now (minor to keep things in perspective) drug issues. She's one (not the only one either) who has not been able to move on to a constructive, satisfying post tennis life alas. I still remember her smiles and amazing hitting when she first came on the tour at 14/15. Other parts of her development obviously neglected in all that of course. I hope she'll be able to find her way. She's got a long life ahead of her still.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/27/2010 at 11:59 PM

sisu - You're right re: pinky nail (just looked at bigger version of pic).

Sad news re: Capriati. Not completely unexpected, as I remember reading an article a few years ago about her struggles with depression and trying to figure out who she was if not a tennis player. Really hope she recovers from this and gets the help she needs to get through this dark period.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 05:42 AM

Good morning, can't sleep, too excited about the matchup today. Other sites are now confirming the Capriatii story, wishing her the best.

Posted by Mike 06/28/2010 at 06:03 AM

I think you'll find a lot of folks who can't seem to appreciate the talent of the likes of the Williams', Masha, Sam Stosur, etc. when compared to a Justine or a Hingis is that the former use their ability to over power as a chief weapon, as opposed to relying on raw shot making ability. They feel that the majority of the women players simply don't have the physical ability to deal with it, and don't have similar weapons to retaliate simply due to the fact that the average woman training normally is not going to develop the strength and power, naturally, that the aforementioned were blessed with, genetically. I don't subscribe to that notion, but have heard a lot of non-player spectators I know make that complaint.

Posted by tina 06/28/2010 at 06:45 AM

Ah, yes, here in the land of All-World-Cup-All-the-Time, I knew that back in the US on Middle Sunday, you would be treated to a lot of hyperbole about the longest - not "best" - match of all time, as NBC uses the day to re-hash the first week, and they just can't help themselves when it comes to hyperbole.

Apparently today I will actually get to see Serena/Shrieky live, for which I am grateful, if true.

Samantha, do you know the expression "like a broken record"? Your incessant reminders of Wozniacki's achievements and young age only serve to remind me that like your favorite target of criticism, Jankovic, she still has yet to win a Slam. But then, I also don't visit whatever other sites you do where "people have talked about Sorana, Lisicki, and Vika". Have you ever thought that Caro's results speak for themselves? The entire tennis world watched her play a US Open final, we KNOW.

Off to learn more about Capriati. Very sad news, indeed - especially with the triumphant story on Navratilova in the NY Times yesterday. Martina has always had a life outside tennis, bless her.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 06:57 AM

Tina, even Caro is fed up with the constant bashing, she has said of the haters: "I don't care." and that she can do no right in their eyes.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 06:58 AM

Kom sa, Vee.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 07:11 AM

Stupid English crowd booing V, Kick her butt V. She's coming from a further locker room. Don't mess with Miss V.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/28/2010 at 07:13 AM

Morning All. Where are we staying today?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 07:25 AM

JJ is down 2-0, I picked Vera to win

Posted by kchowcrazy - ReRe... get that #13! 06/28/2010 at 07:30 AM

Hey everyone, great analysis on Serena Bobby, JK, Bab,Neveah and everyone else i really enjoyed it! Hoping its a good match today i've got a lot of respect for Maria and her fight, but obviously want a no drama Serena win! And go Vee/Vera and Radwanska!

Posted by Fedgirl 06/28/2010 at 07:33 AM

Link for the Jankovic match?

Posted by kchowcrazy - ReRe... get that #13! 06/28/2010 at 07:41 AM

Vera takes the first set 6-1!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 07:42 AM

Go Bepa go!

Posted by temes 06/28/2010 at 07:43 AM

Groth playing very well.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 07:44 AM

Kom sa V, now break her. Notice to MJF, how is Groth "taking it to V" when the match is tied?? say what??

Posted by Master Ace 06/28/2010 at 07:51 AM

I see we have 2 threads running until Monday CC is posted...

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/28/2010 at 07:52 AM

hi everyone
very competitive match, Vee will have to fight today. Vera is gonna take out JJ

Posted by tina 06/28/2010 at 07:54 AM

Well, turns out I won't see Serena/Shrieky live, but rather Kim/Justine.

Samantha, nobody here is saying Caro can "do no right" - and actually, if she really has "haters" that means she is seen as a threat. If she doesn't care, then you shouldn't either. But if you harp on about it on other blogs, too, I'm glad I only visit here, where we all know the list of her achievements and are reminded every single day.

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/28/2010 at 07:55 AM

a down the middle winner by Venus

Posted by tina 06/28/2010 at 08:04 AM

Well, turns out I won't see Serena/Shrieky live, but rather Kim/Justine.

Samantha, nobody here is saying Caro can "do no right" - and actually, if she really has "haters" that means she is seen as a threat. If she doesn't care, then you shouldn't either. But if you harp on about it on other blogs, too, I'm glad I only visit here, where we all know the list of her achievements and are reminded every single day.

Posted by sisu 06/28/2010 at 08:07 AM

Thank you tina. Well said.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/28/2010 at 08:07 AM

Fight V. Brad Gilbert just said that JJ didn't look that her fall was that severe and was basically hurting because of the scoreline.

Posted by sisu 06/28/2010 at 08:11 AM

I'm staying on the Day of Rest thread. Don't care for going back and forth.

Posted by Northern boy 06/28/2010 at 08:16 AM

Does anyone have the stream for Clijsters Henin? Awful looking drop of serve by Kim there.

Posted by TennisFan2 (Serena & Rafa at the Ball?) 06/28/2010 at 08:23 AM

Nice article Bobby. I absolutely love the picture you chose for Serena. It truly represents Serena. Her toss is just perfect isn't it?!?!! (not to mention her nails).

I really enjoy Martina's commentary about WTA players. She is calm, analytical and informative.

Posted by sisu 06/28/2010 at 08:24 AM

Northern Boy, it's on this list -

http://www.livescorehunter.com/Livescores/Livescore-Tennis.html

Most of us are on the Day of Rest thread.

Posted by tina 06/28/2010 at 08:33 AM

Henin has been returning with such power, it's clear that her so-called retirement was used very well. ;)

Posted by Wimby 2010 06/28/2010 at 08:36 AM

Okay, no Fed bashing yet. It's tough to do that when he's winning I guess, ha ha ha!

Posted by Wimby 2010 06/28/2010 at 08:39 AM

I see that JJ retired. Channeling her countryman Djoker, eh?

Posted by air jordan shoes 08/26/2010 at 04:25 AM

I was a tennis fan, I also like to play tennis, I like Roger Federer。

Posted by Rose Quartz Beads 04/27/2011 at 04:06 AM

Every man at forty is a fool or a physician

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