Slava's Golden Set, Serena's 23 Aces
Published June 30, 2012 12:00
LONDON, England - History was made at Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon, as Yaroslava Shvedova became the first woman in the Open Era to record a golden set, upsetting Sara Errani to move into the second week, 60 64.
Shvedova, a wildcard into the draw, won all 24 points in a 15-minute golden first set, hitting 14 winners to zero unforced errors - the No.10-seeded Errani didn't even play badly, getting no winners but hitting only one unforced error. The 42-minute second set was much closer, but the Kazakh was just too tough, finishing it off by wrongfooting Errani with a forehand passing shot.
"I only realized after the match in the gym when my coach told me. I didn't believe him - I thought it must be a mistake," Shvedova said afterwards about the golden set. "I wasn't concentrating on the statistics during the match, I was just playing point by point. I was just thinking that I played a good set.
"I'm the first woman to make a golden egg!"
According to records, there was a golden set in men's tennis in the 1980s, and one in women's tennis in the 1940s. But never a woman in the Open Era.
"I wonder if they'll put a plate on Court 3 to commemorate the occasion, like Mahut and Isner on Court 18!" the charismatic Kazakh joked.
Shvedova's win over the No.10-ranked Errani was her fourth Top 10 win, having previously beaten No.5 Jelena Jankovic (2009 US Open), No.8 Agnieszka Radwanska (2010 French Open) and No.7 Li Na (2012 French Open).
Next for Shvedova is someone who created some of her own history. Already known as one of the best - if not the best - server in the history of women's tennis, Serena Williams set a new personal record for number of aces in a match, blasting 23 to dispatch Zheng Jie in a nail-biter, 67(5) 62 97.
The No.25-seeded Zheng hung tough with Williams throughout the two-hour, 28-minute Centre Court marathon, squeaking through the first set and, after dropping a lopsided second set, staying on serve with Williams throughout the third. Williams had to serve to stay in the match three times, at 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7, and every time she held at love - and after that she pounced, breaking at 7-all then serving it out, finishing it on a volley winner into the open court.
"I really wanted to win this match, because this was my third time against her at Wimbledon on Centre Court," Zheng said after the match. "It was a long, tough match. She has a big serve - it's difficult to play against her on a grass court. But I played well, and I had some chances in the final set. At 7-all I didn't have such a good service game. But it was still a great match for me.
"After we finished the match, she just told me, 'You are crazy. You are crazy. This was an unbelievable match.' I really hope she can win this year."
"I definitely had to dig pretty deep - she was playing really well, and I had to go out there and do what I could," Williams said. "I hit so many errors off the returns. I was just off. Usually I'm returning really, really well. And I think she played an unbelievable match today. But I think I can play better."
Williams had never hit more than 20 aces in any match in her career.
"My serve definitely helped me out today because I wasn't doing my best on my return, like I normally do," Williams commented. "It's good to know I can rely on my serve. The whole match I was able to hold serve, I think."
She was right - Zheng finished the match zero-for-six on break points.
Williams was asked whether actor Dustin Hoffman sitting in her box was a distraction. "It wasn't a distraction - I knew he was coming before," she said. "I knew he would be there. Major fan of his. Who isn't a fan of Dustin Hoffman? I was honored to have him in my box today. He's invited anytime."
"She's such a solid player," Williams said. "I look forward to it. Hopefully I'll be able to win a point in the set. That's my first goal, and then I'll go from there.
"I never knew the golden set existed. Sasha was like, 'She got a golden set.' I was like, 'What does that mean?' I thought, 'She won all four in a row and the Olympics?' I thought it wasn't possible. That's the only golden thing I know of."