by the Spin
It must hard to be Serena Williams. I imagine it must be even harder to be Venus Williams.
Venus was the first of the Williams Sisters to make a Grand Slam final. She was the first to join the WTA Tour. She was the first to play with beads in her hair. She was the first to hit a swing volley. She was the first with a serve that was clocked the fastest in the world ever hit by a woman. There is a lot of firsts for Venus.
This year she was the first top seed to lose at the Australian Open. I am sure that is not something that Venus would like to herald from the mountaintop. The player who took her down in straight sets, went out in the same way to unheralded Kumkhum, a qualifer from Thailand. Most of us first became aware of Kumkhum when she took out Petra Kvitova in the first round of the US Open some years ago.
When Bencic took the court at Rod Laver arena to play Venus she brought the holdover swagger from winning the Hopman Cup. She had confidence and she let Venus know that despite the age difference and despite the fact that Venus was a top player, she was here not only to play but play to win. And she did just that.
I watched Bencic’s match against Kumkhum from start to finish. I expected her to pull a rabbit out of a hat, especially on her break chances. I expected her to win those long deuce games. I expected her to use her power and guile against Kumkhum in the same way she did against Venus. Instead, what I saw was the petulant, entitled Bencic who clearly needed someone to come down court side and hold her hand.
I sometimes do not wish to use the narrative that players play their best against Venus and Serena, but after watching last night’s performance, there is no other way to spin what can only be termed a disastrous showing by Bencic.
I went to bed during the second set of Wozniacki’s match against Fett. I woke up this morning to hear that Wozniacki came back from 5-1 and 2 match points to beat Fett 7-5 in the third. I have not seen the third set, but no doubt I will try and take the opportunity to see what happened. It was my first time seeing or even hearing about Fett, and apart from her unusual service toss which always makes me think she is going to double fault, there is a lot to like about her game.
In another match that finished very late Australia time, Gavrilova, up 5-0 in the first set, would go on to lose that set 7-5 to the always dangerous Elise Mertens and then end up losing the match in straight sets. I don’t know what Gavrilova needs to take her game to the next level, but bouncing around the court and trying to get the home crowd on her side against her opponent is not it.
Day 4 Picks
I am really looking forward to today’s schedule as there are some really good match ups and I am hoping that most of these matches live up to the hype. Below is the schedule and Spin’s Picks
Sharapova v. Sevastova (I am picking Sharapova only because I don’t believe that Sevastova has been playing at her usual high level since the end of last season)
Muguruza v. Hsieh (it could very well be that Hsieh pulls the upset here but I am doubtful)
Barty v. Giorgi (going with my pre-tournament pick to make the second week)
Kerber v. Vekic (how good is Kerber playing and how confident is Vekic?)
Halep v. Bouchard (Bouchard won a tough first round match. Is she confident to take out the World No. 1? Halep has been struggling but will she remind herself that Bouchard has been on a losing streak?)
Vondrousova v. Garcia (despite being in the top 10, Garcia has not looked or played like a top tier player. Maybe she will start to feel better now that she got past Witthoeft)
Haddad Maia v. Pliskova (struggled to close out her match in round 2. Look for her to come out firing on all cylinders)
Konta v. Pera (the lucky loser loses here)
Safarova v. Cirstea (Cirstea struggled against Diyas who barely has weapons. She will struggle against a fit and focused Safarova)
Osaka v. Vesnina (playing very quiet and confident tennis)
Tsurenko v. Radwanska (always dangerous, Aga’s run stops here)
Arruabarrena v. Strycova (immovable object meets unstoppable force)