Serena is not taking a Wimbledon victory for granted

2010-07-02 11:18

Serena Williams admitted that overconfidence could be the biggest

obstacle to her bid to win a fourth Wimbledon singles title in Saturday’s final

against Vera Zvonareva.

Williams has swept to the final in such dominant fashion that few

people, outside of Zvonareva’s family and friends, expect anything other than a

convincing victory for the defending champion.

The American top seed has yet to drop a set at this year’s

Championships and has sent down a total of 80 aces as she bludgeoned opponents

into submission with her ferocious serve.

Even those impressive statistics don’t do justice to the way Serena

has advanced to her sixth Wimbledon singles final.

She began the tournament by winning the first set of each of her

first three matches without dropping a set.

Then, when the going got tougher in the second week, she was able

to raise her game at the crucial moment to stay on top of feisty rivals such as

Petra Kvitova, who took her to a tie-break in Thursday’s semifinal.

Now she just has to defeat Russian 21st seed Zvonareva, who will be

playing in her first Grand Slam final, to retain the Venus Rosewater dish.

With 12 Grand Slam titles already to her name, Serena knows she is

the favourite and, in the circumstances, a less focused player may take victory

for granted.

But the 28-year-old has no intention of resting on her laurels when

she walks on to Centre Court.

“On paper, it looks like I should win. But I’ve played Vera several

times. She’s beaten some good people,” Serena said.

“Her last two matches, she’s been down a set, so she’s obviously a

fighter. She never gives up. I’ve been in this situation before where I did put

pressure on myself and actually ended up losing. I learned from that, hopefully.

I just don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”

For the past two years, the women’s final has been an all-Williams

affair, but Venus is absent this time and Serena admits she is sad not to be

playing her sister again.

“It definitely won’t be any easier. I obviously want Venus to do

the best, but she wasn’t able to get to the final,” Serena said.

Serena has been so dominant on serve at the Championships this year

that her total of 80 aces is 50 more than the second-highest tally reached by

sister Venus.

But the world number one is at a loss to explain why her serve has

been so formidable.

“I’ve never served that many aces. It’s just really weird,” Serena

said. “I’ve always relied on my serve to be really strong. As my career has gone

on, it’s just got better.”

While Serena undoubtedly has more weapons at her disposal than

Zvonareva, the Russian has demonstrated her fighting spirit by coming from a set

down to defeat Kim Clijsters and then Tsvetana Pironkova in her past two

matches.

Zvonareva (25) is well aware the bookmakers give her virtually no

chance of winning her first Grand Slam this week, but she is determined to push

Serena harder than anyone has managed so far.

“Serena is a great player and the defending champion, but I always

believe in myself,” Zvonareva said. “I don’t care about what everyone says. I

know if I play my best tennis, I can beat anyone. I never look at any odds or

comparisons. It’s not important to me.

“I will have to stay aggressive no matter what and not let her

dominate. When Serena dominates, she’s very difficult to play. She’s a great

fighter. I will try to fight for every point and try to make it difficult for

her.”

Zvonareva has come out on top against Serena in the past and, with

that memory for inspiration, she makes a passionate case for why she can upset

the odds again.

“I remember I played a very good match against her in Cincinnati

one year, and I was able to beat her,” she said.

“There will be moments where she doesn’t make a first serve. I

haven’t seen anyone make a hundred percent of first serves. Then you just have

to take your chances.”


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