I don’t think anyone gave Garbine Muguruza much of a chance against Serena Williams. How could they? After all, here was a 21 year old playing her first Grand Slam final , her first final of any sort, facing a twenty time Grand Slam winner on Wimbledon’s Center Court. The most we could hope for was a competitive match and some good tennis. That Serena and Garbine certainly delivered.
The match started off auspiciously for Garbine as Serena committed two double faults and gave away the opening game. In Garbine’s initial service game she showed off a powerful first serve and some heavy groundstrokes, particularly on the backhand, to go up 2-0. The next few games went on serve but gradually Serena assumed control. As Garbine’s first serve percentage went down, Serena teed off on the weak second serves and returned them for clear winners. Garbine did show gumption in holding her serve to go up 4-2 but Serena broke her twice and ran out the first set 6-4.
In the second set, Garbine started feeling the pressure and committed several double faults. Her ground strokes, so impressive when the match began, began going awry as she either shanked them or hit them long. To be fair, her mishaps were often the result of stellar play by her opponent. Serena ran down everything that Garbine fired over the net and hammered the ball with authority to the far corners of the court. She was rarely troubled on her own service and , anytime she looked like she might be getting into trouble, she reared back and fired another ace. Some of her serves were clocked at 120 mph and over, almost 15 mph faster than Garbine’s. Before I knew it, Serena had cantered to a 5-1 lead and the center court spectators must have begun thinking of the ride home.
Then came Garbine’s finest moments. With Serena serving for the match, Garbine broke her at love , then won the next two games to climb to 4-5. This period saw the best tennis of the match with both players unleashing some powerful shots. One glorious rally went for 14 strokes. The last game Garbine won was the most pulsating of the match. Serena fell behind love-40 on her serve, fought back to deuce, then saved one more break point before losing the game on the fifth one. However, that was to be the last flicker of Garbine’s resistance as Serena served out the match at love, a deserving winner.
The match proved one more time what we all knew: Even at this late stage of her career, the only one who can beat Serena is Serena herself. She just has too much power for the others to cope with. It is apparent that Safarova, Halep,Wozniacki, Kvitova, Kuznetsova and the other East Europeans are no match for Serena.Even Sharapova, who once looked like a credible opponent, has not been the same since her shoulder injury and has lost seventeen straight to Serena. At least Garbine with her big hitting game holds out the promise of sterner opposition in the future.