“Best Match I’ve Played”: Serena Williams Exudes Confidence After Tying Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Record
Serena Williams oozed class and confidence, with a straight-sets win over Simona Halep, in one of the most anticipated matches of the Australian Open 2021. Williams moved a step closer to her 24th Grand Slam title, displaying her famous fighting spirit throughout the quarter-final against Halep.
In the process, the American superstar tied Roger Federer as the only players with 362 match wins in Grand Slam history. Williams now has the chance to go past Federer as the tennis player, male or female, with most match wins at the highest level of the sport.
Williams’ name appears in so many sections of the tennis history books, and this feat surely goes down as one of the more incredible ones. In her bid for the 363rd win, Williams will now have to fend off the challenge of Naomi Osaka in the semi-final.
The relentless pressure from Williams was too much for Halep eventually. Serena fittingly broke Halep’s serve to seal the deal at 6-3, 6-3.
Serena Williams brought her A-game in the big match
Williams knows the importance of beating Halep at this stage of a big tournament. She signaled her intentions right away, playing some big shots early on, including a massive return of serve on the opening point itself.
The best news for Williams is that she played the best match of her tournament so far, and she gladly admitted the same.
“This is the best match I’ve played in this tournament for sure. I had to, going up against the no. 2 in the world. I knew that I had to do better, and that’s what I did, so I’m excited,” Williams said in her on-court interview.
Williams broke Halep‘s serve early, but Halep struck back to not allow Williams to run away with the match. However, the 23-time Major winner continued to apply the pressure, broke again, and sealed the set riding on that second break.
“I realized I was making a lot of unforced errors on those games that I lost. And I knew I had an opportunity to get better. I just said to myself, ‘Stay in there, keep going’, and that’s what I did,” Williams said on her approach.
Williams said she has been working on her defense
One of the key factors for Williams at this year’s Australian Open has been her ability to defend better than ever. Williams said that was one of the aspects of her game she worked on with coach Patrick Mouratoglou before the season. She is glad all the work is now paying rich dividends.
“Last year, my coach Patrick had a long talk with me how I need to be better on defense. So we had a lot of time to work on our movement,” Williams expressed. She did not do much of that in the off-season, as her focus was on recovering her full fitness.
Williams’ movement has been very good all week, and even at 39 years old, she is confident of her speed across the court to take control of the rallies.
“I can make some leaps and bounds and improvements really fast. And I know throughout my career speed has been one thing I’ve been super good at in my game. Sometimes I’m getting points and getting balls and I just know I have the legs to do it,” Williams added.
Resisting the pressure on key points
The Romanian world number two is known to push her opponents in the longer rallies, gradually taking control of the points and using her endurance abilities to good effect. At the Australian Open 2021 as well, heading into this match, Halep had played many more long rallies compared to Williams.
However, on Tuesday, Serena matched Halep in the longer rallies and won a lot of shorter points as well.
Her next match will be even a more anticipated one for tennis fans. Two of the most consistent players in the world will go up against each other and Williams will fancy her chances if she can repeat her performance from the quarter-finals.