February 14, 2021
Serena Williams will relish her next big match more than most, you sense.
Players who beat her in Wimbledon finals don’t always fair well in future matches against her. Just ask Maria Sharapova.
Simona Halep knows she will have to bring all her aggression from the start in a clash that is already capturing everyone’s imagination.
Meanwhile fellow Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic shrugged aside his injury worries to beat Milos Raonic in four sets at the Australian Open.
In doing so, the Serb set up a sparkling quarter-final clash against Alexander Zverev.
Perhaps the most mouth-watering match-up comes in the women’s quarters, though.
Serena has a shot at revenge over Simona for the Wimbledon final of 2019.
The rematch will be truly scintillating – just as the Wimbledon showpiece was for Halep. Simona has always said that was her one perfect performance in a glittering career.
‘I will only beat Serena if I play my best,’ Halep warned.
Serena will be even more highly motivated than usual to turn the tables on her Wimbledon conqueror.
She is desperate for that record-equalling 24th Slam in Margaret Court’s back yard.
Meanwhile Zverev will think he is flying in under the radar right now and heading smoothly towards his target.
The young German superstar came so close to winning the US Open and has beaten Novak before.
Djokovic knows he will need all his famed court-craft to see off Zverev in Melbourne.
Both men will feel their chances of Australian Open glory have been enhanced by the shock exit of Dominic Thiem, who lost in straight sets to Grigor Dimitrov.
The popular Austrian said he was suffering from physical problems and just had a bad day.
Maybe Thiem didn’t come away from that epic against Nick Kyrgios entirely unscathed.
It must also have been hard psychologically to ride the wave of that electric atmosphere, only to have to face Dimitrov in an empty stadium next time up.
But fans worldwide can be pretty sure that Zverev and Novak will treat them to another epic in a couple of days’ time.
These huge matches in Grand Slams are what the players live for. We can’t wait to see more of the same at Wimbledon 2021.
Zverev earned his place with a convincing 50th Grand Slam win. He beat Dusan Lajovic in three sets and there should be plenty left in the tank for a more demanding showdown in the second week.
This is the business end of the Australian Open. The second week of Wimbledon 2021 also promises to be the most dramatic and spectacular.
But as we have seen in Melbourne, the first week is never without its classic clashes and shuddering shocks either.
Wimbledon 2021 will be no different. Not long now.
Current Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep came through an edgy three-setter against Iga Swiatek. The Romanian’s defence was simply outstanding as she finally gained the upper hand over the French Open champion.
Serena had to battle all the way too in order to earn that Halep rematch.
She was in trouble against Aryna Sabalenka – even in the final set. But when it really mattered, Serena rallied, broke and closed out.
For a 39-year-old, Serena is looking remarkably mobile and fit. She will need to serve more aggressively and consistently in the big one. She will have to cut out the unforced errors, too.
But many of her problems in recent years have involved the sheer pressure of playing as a living legend with 23 Grand Slams to her name.
This time Serena will be the underdog. It wasn’t like that at Wimbledon.
Will the shift in power help the American prevail?
Only if Simona has a bad day. But it’s going to make for fascinating viewing.