Serena First To 30, Closes In On 50
Published May 11, 2013 12:00
MADRID, Spain - A day after almost seeing her Mutua Madrid Open campaign evaporate at the hands of Anabel Medina Garrigues - she lost the second set at love and was down 4-2 in the third, too - Serena Williams tidied her game up and slid past another one of the game's best counterpunchers, beating Sara Errani in a tight two-setter in the semifinals of the Premier-level tournament.
After the 63 06 75 quarterfinal win over Medina Garrigues, the No.1-seeded Williams talked about having to cut down on her errors and getting her intensity back up, and that's exactly what she did against Errani and her air tight game, twice coming back from a break down early in the first set then winning 10 of the last 13 games of the match to make it past the No.7-seeded Italian, 75 62.
"I guess I'm a little happy," the perfectionist Williams said. "I feel that I played solid. In the second set more than the first I made less errors, which was something that I really needed to do today."
"I didn't serve very well," Errani said. "My first serve percentage was very high, but my second serves weren't very good, and even my first serves I couldn't put them where I wanted to because she was putting so much pressure on me with the return. I have to be better in that, but it's not easy."
Williams and Errani were also battling to see who would be the first player this year to reach 30 match wins on the WTA - they both came into Madrid at 25 wins and after four rounds were tied at 29.
Before the match, Williams' determination was evident as she told her millions of fans on Twitter she had to go and get ready for it - that prompted some humorous comments in her post-match presser.
"I was really just staying focused and not doing too many extracurricular activities," Williams said. "I usually just stay in my room, really, and I'm being the most boring person you can ever imagine.
"That's kind of the way I get focused."
Perhaps surprisingly, Williams is now into her first final on red clay since 2002, and just her fourth overall - her first three were all in 2002, finishing runner-up in Berlin (to Justine Henin), winning Rome (beating Henin in the final) and winning Roland Garros (beating Venus Williams in the final).
Williams has had no shortage of finals on all the other surfaces and all the other colors of clay, however - this will be her 66th WTA final, and she has 49 titles and 16 runner-up finishes to her name. But what's more important to the American, winning WTA titles or hanging onto her No.1 ranking?
"That's a tough one," she said. "Obviously I love being No.1 - in my heart I feel I'm No.1. But I also love to win tournaments. So I think if I just win as many tournaments as I can, I'll be No.1. Hopefully."
That No.1 ranking will come under attack on Sunday as she takes on Maria Sharapova in the final - if Sharapova wins the match, she will take the top spot away from Williams. "I look forward to it," she said. "I feel like this whole tournament I've only played clay court players from my first round to now, and everyone was also smaller than me. So I think tomorrow will be a really good match - a different game, more power obviously, but still a lot of the consistency. So I'm looking forward to it."
Williams is going for her 50th WTA title. Only nine women have achieved that feat, namely Martina Navratilova (167), Chris Evert (154), Steffi Graf (107), Margaret Court (92), Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (68), Billie Jean King (67), Lindsay Davenport (55), Virginia Wade (55) and Monica Seles (53).