Ser­ena Wil­liams re­cov­ers from poor start to win

The Manica Post - - Sport -

SER­ENA Wil­liams over­came a slug­gish start to power past Maria Sakkari in straight-sets at the Hop­man Cup on Mon­day in her first com­pet­i­tive match since melt­ing down in the US Open fi­nal.

The 37-year-old was rusty and down an early break but did enough to record a com­fort­able 7-6 (3), 6-2 vic­tory in one hour and 44 min­utes in the women’s singles match.

The re­sult lev­elled the tie be­tween the United States and Greece, but Wil­liams and play­ing part­ner Frances Ti­afoe lost the later mixed dou­bles match in three sets to Sakkari and Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas

Even though both her an­kles were strapped and re­quired med­i­cal at­ten­tion dur­ing the change of sets, Wil­liams moved freely and looked sharper as the match wore on.

“It was my first match back. I was mak­ing a lot of er­rors,” Wil­liams said. “It was great to be back out on match day.”

The 23-time Grand Slam singles cham­pion lost an ex­hi­bi­tion match against sis­ter Venus in Abu Dhabi last week, but the Hop­man Cup is her first com­pet­i­tive event since her con­tro­ver­sial de­feat to Ja­pan’s Naomi Osaka at Flush­ing Mead­ows in Septem­ber.

It was an er­ror-strewn start for Wil­liams, who strug­gled to land her first serve and was bro­ken in the third game. She could have been in a big­ger hole if not for sav­ing break points in her first and third ser­vice games.

A vo­cal Wil­liams tried to pump her­self up in a bid to shake off the stu­por and raised her arms sky­ward af­ter hold­ing serve in the fifth game. A con­fi­dent Sakkari held the edge un­til los­ing her nerve at­tempt­ing to close out the set in the 10th game.

Wil­liams then found her range and dom­i­nated the tie break to wrap up the first set in 63 min­utes. She broke twice in the sec­ond set and closed it out with an ace. Wil­liams is a two-time Hop­man Cup win­ner, hav­ing tri­umphed in 2003 with James Blake and five years later along­side Mardy Fish.

In the ear­lier men’s singles match, No.15 ranked Tsit­si­pas over­came a sec­ond set wob­ble to de­feat Ti­afoe 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3. It was a con­fi­dence boost for the Greek ris­ing star af­ter his shock straight­sets loss to unheralded Bri­tish played Cameron Nor­rie on Satur­day.

The fan­cied Greece kept its tour­na­ment alive with a 4-1, 1-4, 4-2 vic­tory in the mixed dou­bles af­ter an open­ing de­feat against Bri­tain. The United States will bat­tle Switzer­land in a show­piece fix­ture on Tues­day, which pits Wil­liams against fel­low ten­nis le­gend Roger Fed­erer in the mixed dou­bles.

“As a player it’s some­thing that you would dream of play­ing Roger Fed­erer,” Wil­liams told re­porters.

“It’s only mixed dou­bles, but still it’s like a dream come true for me.”

The 37-year-olds have won 43 Grand Slam singles ti­tles be­tween them Fed­erer a record 20 in men’s ten­nis and are ar­guably the best ever. - Daily Mail.

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