Being a Rena fan, I have been able to enjoy many, many moments of pure ecstasy. However, they say that when you are on that much of a high, ‘what goes up, must come down’. The defeats can be very hard to take basically. She and we know that she is the favourite and with that comes expectation. Life doesn’t always go as it should though. Strange things can happen at times, it is a fact of life and indeed, of sport.
I think now, even looking back on this, the match flashed before my eyes. From a set and a breakdown, Serena played lights out to lead 5/1 in the decider. She was anticipating the Pliskova delivery superbly, serving big and coasting. Then on match point, she served an ace but was called for a foot fault and in the very same point then went over on her ankle. I don’t know why but when the double fault came next I knew we were in trouble. Even when Pliskova broke back we were still at 5/2 but you knew something was up. The very fact she lost the last eleven points of the match on her own serve tells you something was not right. Yes, she had match points after that on the Pliskova serve (which the Czech played unbelievably well on) but the intensity had dropped. Serena herself says there was nothing wrong with the ankle and praised how well Pliskova played but Mouratogolou has suggested on French TV that she knew her tournament was over after she went over on it and that is why she didn’t even call for the trainer. Her movement as a whole certainly wasn’t right after that. Obviously, the US Open 09 footfault topic and whether that was a factor or not has also been talked about, but that is something I don’t want to go into right now. The ankle was a far bigger factor for me.
It is a hard defeat to take on the basis that she had virtually won the match, she was playing some fantastic stuff from a break down in the second. I am obviously disappointed but I have seen enough here to know that she is on the right track. Sometimes during a Slam, things go wrong and you don’t win it, it just needs a bad/unlucky 30-minute spell and you are out. There has still been nothing to suggest she won’t get to Court’s 24 or even further. As a fairytale in my head, Wimbledon is where it will happen. As she said these things can take time. There is still nobody out there for her to fear and her performances in the majors show she is right there.
Naomi Osaka breezed past Elina Svitolina, who had treatment on a neck injury which severely hampered her performance, particularly in the second set. That would explain a few of the Ukranian’s struggles in the last couple of rounds, as she says she has been carrying the injury. This was just what the doctor ordered for Osaka though after a tough last few rounds of her own. My only winner in the quarters from my preview. Says a lot about my tournament from a betting perspective!! It has become my bogey tournament it would seem.
Lucas Pouille beating Milos Raonic was a real surprise. Raonic had looked so solid coming into this. Pouille said he took a lot of confidence from his win over Popyrin (which would have looked a strange comment to some) and he has backed that up with improving performances against Coric and the Canadian today. His return game was on point and he took Raonic’s biggest weapon away from him, he was also incredibly solid in the rallies. Pouille was good value for the two set lead. Most importantly, he stayed composed and kept his cool to keep at the task in hand when he dropped the third set breaker. It would have been easy to panic. Great tennis from the Frenchman.
Nishikori retiring against Nole doesn’t really come as a surprise. It has been a gruelling 10 days for him. If you are clearly having issues with your movement and are 1/6 1/4 to the World Number One, then why would you put yourself and everyone else through it? I do feel for him as he has had so many injuries but he has played an awful amount of tennis in Melbourne this year.
Andy Del Potro