Shaky serves, poor net play part of Serena's downfall in Melbourne
MELBOURNE, Australia -- There weren't many people who believed in Angelique Kerber when the Australian Open began two weeks ago, but the seventh-ranked German earned a lot of respect after seven rounds of stellar play.
ESPN analyst Mary Joe Fernandez points out five things that went wrong for Williams:
1. Poor net play
Serena needed to be patient to construct the point and wait for her opening. She is good at the net when she can put away her first volley, but she was having a hard time finishing off points. Angelique drew her in on occasion, hitting some great angles, and Serena had no choice but to move in. There were just too many times Serena would hit an approach shot just to see what would happen, and that's when she's not at her best.
2. A suspect serve
Serena wanted the easy point; she wanted the ace. In the final set, her first-serve percentage went way down to almost 40 percent. She was pushing too hard and out of rhythm. Her serve timing was terrible and her ball toss was too far in front. She's had such an easy time throughout much of her career winning the easy point, but it wasn't working for her against Kerber.
3. Reading Kerber's serve
Even though Angelique doesn't have a huge serve, Serena spent too much time trying to guess which side Angelique was going to serve to, sometimes standing too far over to one side. This helped Kerber serve better than she probably should have.
4. Too many nerves
We've seen it before when Serena gets nervous -- she loses her footwork and then tries to muscle her way through it. Then, she ends up lunging and out of position. You can see it when she starts hitting her groundstrokes long.
5. Handling Kerber's angles
Kerber played as well as I have ever seen her play. I said that when she beat Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, but she was even better Sunday. Her angles were tremendous, and Serena failed to react to them after seeing a few go flying by her. Serena didn't seem to have a strategy to change the rhythm of the match. For Kerber to play at that high of a level in those moments, make so few unforced errors and come up with those shots was unbelievable -- especially with her backhand, which took Serena off the court. It was a complete match against Serena, from start to finish.