Serena serves it up but our Sam can take it

Vinay Verma Roar Guru

By Vinay Verma, Vinay Verma is a Roar Guru

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16 Have your say

    It is not wise to declare your hand in this sports writing game, but Sam Stosur can win this French Open. The script was torn up in the Henin/Stosur match on Monday night. Henin’s strength is her single-handed backhand, yet this was her weakness against Stosur.

    Conversely, Sam’s strength is her first serve, but she only served 66 percent to Henin’s 71 percent.

    In the end, it was the Stosur forehand that did the damage.

    She hits this flat down the line with a defining flick of the wrist. She hits it with topspin across the court. And she hits an off-forehand with an open stance into the baseline corner.

    Henin had all the crowd support and Stosur had to calm her nerves before closing out the third set with an emphatic smash.

    Stosur has the game to beat Serena and the clash on Wednesday will hinge on the first serve. Serena can crank it up to the 205 mark. Stosur can go the high 190s and averages 168 to Serena’s 172.

    Sam has the better second serve and this could also prove decisive.

    This is the modern women’s game and the battle between Serena and Sam could well be the best match of the tournament.

    The winner will have one hand on the trophy.

    Monday afternoon in Paris was dull and blustery. Sam took off her sunnies in the second set and she was a different player. She is not a demonstrative player. But she has steel in her eyes and is a fighter.

    She is at her best when she is attacking.

    Serena acknowledges it will not be a stroll: “Sam is actually a wonderful clay court player. I think she proved that last year, and this year I think she’s only lost twice on the clay. So she’s someone you can’t overlook. She’s fast, strong, and has a great serve.”

    This is a remarkable about face from the Serena that called Stosur “a good framer” after losing in Stanford.

    Stosur has just defeated a four time French Open champion on her favourite surface. Serena has won the French once, in 2002. and has not been past the quarters since 2004.

    This is Stosur’s time.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • June 2nd 2010 @ 7:17am
      Plasmodium said | June 2nd 2010 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      VINAY – I rather think that Sam’s second serve is her best weapon as she gets a tremendous kick on it on clay – far less so on grass. A tactic against an obese Serena might be to run her from side to side, give her a lot of drop shots, and count on her running out of puff in the third (as long as Sam wins a set beforehand, of course).

      Sam showed against Justine that she’s not immune to the threat of choking – what the French call avoir les petit bras. It’s something the sports psychologists can’t explain, the fact that women suffer from nerves on court more than do their male counterparts. Alain de Flassieux, who covered women’s tennis for years for l’Equipe, says “It’s the one who’s least afraid who wins.”

      One of my favourite players, and I believe she’s one of yours, too, Gaby Sabatini, was up
      6-1, 5-1 and had match point against Mary Joe Fernandez in the ’93 French. What kind of odds on Mary Joe could you have got from an India bookie at that stage?

      Incidentally, a good quarter-final win today by Dlouhy and Paes. I think Leander is around 37 or so but still so good on a doubles court.

      • Roar Guru

        June 2nd 2010 @ 7:58am
        Vinay Verma said | June 2nd 2010 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        Plasmodium,I was replying to Kersi as you were posting your comment so did not see it. You make a relevant point about the second serve kicker and I concur that she needs to run the Rubenesque Serena to distraction.

        Choking also occurs with fine fish and chicken bones! Women suffering more than men ? I am not convinced. Maybe they show it more but in the end it is because athletes focus on the outcome instead of the process.

        Jana Novotna was the Countess of Chokes but she got redemption at Wimbledon. Paes is known,needs to be digitally mastered and preserved for posterity as the next Indian champion is a long way away.

    • Columnist

      June 2nd 2010 @ 7:36am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | June 2nd 2010 @ 7:36am | ! Report


      Has any Australian won Ladies Singles in French Open since Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong in 1970s?

      All the best, Sam!

      • Roar Guru

        June 2nd 2010 @ 7:46am
        Vinay Verma said | June 2nd 2010 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Kersi,the short answer is No! Margaret Court was the last winner in 1973 beating Missy Chrissie in 3.

        Sam needs to run Serena around a bit and can only do this if her first serve works. This enables her to dictate the point.Stosur’s superior fitness may just give her the edge.

    • Columnist

      June 2nd 2010 @ 7:59am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | June 2nd 2010 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Or any other Major title for Aussie women since 1970s, Vinay?

    • Roar Guru

      June 2nd 2010 @ 8:07am
      mds1970 said | June 2nd 2010 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      I think the last was Evonne Goolagong winning Wimbledon in 1980.

      It’s been a long time between drinks. Come on Sam!

    • June 2nd 2010 @ 8:49am
      Plasmodium said | June 2nd 2010 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      VINAY – Jana may have been the Countess of Chokes but Gaby was the Queen. When Jana did her famous fall apart she was up 4-1, 40-15 against Steffi, but Gaby blew five, count ’em, five match points against Mary Jo. Gaby gets the royal purple.

      Re their respective records, Gaby won only one GS singles – the US Open – and one GS doubles – Wimbledon. Jana won only one GS title, too – Wimbledon – but has 12 GS doubles titles.

      KERSI – MDS is correct: Evonne won the Big W in ’71 and again in ’80, the last Aussie woman to do so. Pam Shriver said that she was “A mother and sometime tennis player.”

      Martina has the best record at Wimbedon – she was a finalist a remarkable 12 times in 16 years winning the title nine times.

    • June 2nd 2010 @ 9:22am
      Brett McKay said | June 2nd 2010 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Vinay, the way sports news is being dominated at the moment, I fully expected you to reveal that Sam Stosur, should she beat Serena Williams in the QF, will be playing Israel Folau in the semi….

      Happily, not the case!!

      Stosur has done unbelievebly well in Paris, in what has been a cracking week for women’s sport in Australia, with the Matilda’s Asian Cup win too. I agree with you, she has the game to beat Williams, but the question may well be a matter of patience.

      Ian Healy’s motto in life was/is “to lose patience is to lose the battle.” Let’s hope Sam can win both…

      • Roar Guru

        June 2nd 2010 @ 9:38am
        Vinay Verma said | June 2nd 2010 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        Brett, There is going to be a bit of “niggle” in this and to carry on your Healy analogy maybe Sam should have a ‘Ranatunga” dig at Serena.

        Australia has such a proud tradition in Tennis that it saddens me to see how it has come to this pass. Clay courts should have been a priority in the nineties. What clay does is to teach you to refine the ground strokes. The game has changed whereby you need to have an all court game. The reason Laver and Court won all four was their allround game. I suppose much like Twenty20 does not a great player make.

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