A final for the ages

The Australian Open women’s final produced one of the most spectacular matches in the open era. For me personally, it was the best match I have seen in the history of the sport!

Serena Williams was chasing history, looking to equal the great Steffi Graf who holds an open era record of 22 major singles titles. When it came to Australian Open finals, Williams was 6 and 0 for wins versus losses. Angelique Kerber was chasing her own dream, to become a grand slam champion. Germany hadn’t produced a grand slam champion since 1999 when Steffi Graf triumphed in Paris. All week, she had been receiving messages of support from the legend herself.

It was clear right from the start that Serena felt the weight of the world on her shoulders, whilst Angie was cool, calm and collected. From the first ball hit, I could see that Kerber was fearless. She was poised and composed, almost as if she had been to a grand slam final dozens of times when in actual fact it was her first major final! Serena on the other hand was erratic, spraying her groundstrokes long and wide. Kerber was reading Serena’s serve unbelievably well and chased every ball down, making Serena play just one more shot in each rally. On top of that, when Serena came into the net, Kerber delivered her signature passing shots with precision (hitting Serena with one of them!) It was clear that Serena was certainly under her best level of tennis, but she kept swinging and in the second set it was all Serena. The key factor which hampered Serena’s chances was that she didn’t gain many ‘free points’, which is what she often relies on in the big moments. She couldn’t hit her signature ace out wide on the deuce court or down the tee on the advantage court (only 7 for the whole match). That must’ve impacted Serena’s confidence that she just couldn’t put her opponent away.

I confessed to my family with whom I was watching the match with that, if Kerber does not triumph tonight, I will lose all faith in the sport of tennis. I just couldn’t fathom that a player could go on and lose a match where they have performed in sublime fashion over the course of 2 hours. Only 13 unforced errors to 25 winners and 5 aces to 3 double faults. WOW. I just couldn’t see what else Kerber had to do to triumph, but it clearly shows us what it takes to beat the best!

The entire tennis world and sporting world is cheering for Angie, she deserved the title and has inspired many onlookers in the process. By staying positive, working very hard and believing in yourself, she proved that you can make your dreams come true. Even her opponent, Serena, admitted in her post-match press conference that she found inspiration from what she faced out on court. Serena’s praise for Kerber, graciousness in defeat and sportsmanship post-match is evidence of what a wonderful person, competitor and champion she is. Kudos to both women!