[CR1] Serena Williams (USA) vs. [CR42] Sloane Stephens (USA)
There seems to be drama surrounding Williams almost every time she steps on court. Today’s match was no exception. Stephens beat Williams in the 2013 Australian Open. What many may fail to remember is that Williams was struggling with back problems and could hardly move. We know the record books do not footnote results; a win is recorded as a victory even when the opponent may have been hampered by illness or injury. Today was another slow start for Williams, probably a result of lingering nerves; however, there was also the added tension of playing Stephens and their existing testy relationship.
Though Williams fought back to even the set and had a set point, she would fail to convert and lose the first set in a tiebreaker. The remaining sets were more characteristic of Williams; she found her rhythm and lost the nerves. It’s not a lack of confidence for Williams but rather her desire to win is so great, it sometimes hinders her performance. Going to that inner place she seems capable of accessing, Williams tuned out everything and focused on the ball to win 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2. Williams knows she will have to be more alert from the beginning against her next opponent (Elina Svitolina or Timea Bacsinszky).