Heather Watson has already seen off too tough opponents in Caroline Garcia and Daniela Hantuchova with some exceptional tennis and will have to pull something extraordinary out of the hat to defeat Serena Williams.
Serena at the moment just seems to be getting better with age and right now is looking simply unstoppable. Since that really bizarre performance against Simona Halep at the WTA Finals in Singapore Serena has only lost one match in the last 8 months which is magnificent.
To beat Serena you have to serve well and get a lot of first serves in. You can’t serve with a first serve percentage around 50-60% or lower otherwise you will be picked off and the match will be over before you know it. Second serve is key as well, if I were serving I’d be looking at a serve out wide or a body serve which can be very effective against Serena on the first serve. Trying to get some spin and bounce on a serve out wide would be good but you have to make sure the bounce is higher than waist height over wise it will be returned with interest. Heather served very well against Daniela yesterday so I do hope she can keep that level up again. She did mix up the serve well and produced a lot of power behind it, the last thing you want is to be predictable on serve so you have to mix it up.
Returning serve against Serena as well can be a major problem. Serena does have the best serve in the woman’s game. Having the best serve doesn’t exactly mean having a lot of power behind it but having the ability to mix it up and get yourself out of trouble. There are games where players don’t really get a look in at serves, I’ve seen some players try to attack the serve which isn’t a good idea as they then get even more frustrated with themselves for making errors. When I watch players against Serena I’d like to see them try a bit more backhand slice returning especially with a serve out wide or into the body. The good thing about the backhand slice return is that it does take a lot of pace off the ball and if you can get a lot of spin on it doesn’t bounce much when it makes contact with the ground. The problems with the slice return is that too much height on the slice could see Serena come to the net and finish the rally with a volley and also returning the ball short, you have to make sure no matter how you return against Serena it isn’t short and the returns need to be around the baseline.
One performance that really does stick in the memory against Serena Williams was by Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros in 2014. Obviously clay is a totally different service to grass but I felt her performance and tactics are something that can be used on all courts and can effective. Garbine didn’t get Serena moving around the court but beat her on the baseline and got a lot of joy with powerful strong groundstrokes which sat just inside the baseline and either forced the error from Serena or Serena ended up playing a short ball which was then attacked by Muguruza.
I’m not just being biased being a Heather Watson fan as I am a massive fan of Serena but if Heather can play the level of tennis she did against Hantuchova I honestly believe she does have a chance.
COME ON HEV!!