January 25, 2017
Who can stop Serena Williams from making history now? Can anyone seriously stand in her way?
After Serena disposed of the in-form Brit, Johanna Konta with relative ease, it seems likely that the younger Williams sister will edge ahead of the great Steffi Graf within days.
She looks set to become the most decorated Grand Slam singles player of the Open era, moving ahead of Steffi onto 23 titles.
It was fitting that the magnificent Margaret Court, who won 24 Grand Slam singles titles but didn’t have to suffer the intensity of the modern tennis age, was in the crowd to watch Serena work her way towards sporting immortality.
But will Williams falter again at the business end of a Slam tournament, just as she has done before? And if such a thing is still possible, who is most likely to take Serena down?
When you look at the three women who have the potential to stand in her way, one name leaps out – CoCo Vandeweghe. She is playing fantastic tennis and she crushed Garbine Muguruza earlier this week. Vandeweghe has the confidence and force of personality to ruin Serena’s latest dream.
Serena’s semi-final opponent is Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the unseeded Croat. But after she declared that her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 quarter-final victory over Karolina Pliskova had ‘truly made my life,’ you wonder whether she has gone as far as she needs to go, in order to achieve complete emotional satisfaction?
Venus Williams stands in Coco’s way in the other semi-final. Some believe that conditions in Australia will work in favour of Venus and that we are about to see another all-Williams final.
If that were to happen, things could get a little complicated. Sure, both sisters would be doing all they could to beat the other.That goes without saying.
But on a subconscious level, does 36-year-0ld Venus really have that fierce desire to take Open-era history away from her sister, when push comes to shove? Could she summon the necessary brutality? Hmmm…maybe.
All things considered, however, the 25-year-old Coco makes the best candidate – and not just because she is young enough to have been a thwarted hunter of a Venus autograph as a child.
She has that devil-may-care attitude that could bring her surprising glory. She will respect Serena if she meets her in the final – but not too much.
Not that relative youth is a reliable pointer to success in this extraordinary Australian Open, where six of the eight singles semi-finalists are over thirty.
Rafa Nadal struck another blow for the oldies when he pulverised poor Milos Raonic, who squandered six set points in the second before Rafa romped away to a 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 victory.
Young Grigor Dimitrov, conqueror of David Goffin, waits in the semi-final – but Grigor might not be able to make his advantageous age count for much either.
Could it be another Federer v Nadal final, to roll back the years? Wouldn’t that be something? And if not here, where Stan Wawrinka is far more dangerous, why not at Wimbledon, where Stan struggles on grass? All things are possible in 2017 !
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