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Serena Williams: Unmatched in Focus and Ferocity

Serena Williams shouts, shrieks, squats, slouches, grimaces, huffs and puffs, grits her teeth and purses her lips and, on occasion, stares into her racket as if it were a mirror magnifying every little wrinkle and imperfection. And this is when she is winning.

Such is the agony and the ecstasy of Williams, once questioned for her commitment to the sport and her chances of returning to primacy from myriad injuries. But now she is unmatched in her focus and ferocity by any player to step onto a court this United States Open.

Dominant only begins to describe her 6-0, 6-0 fourth-round win over Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic on Monday.

On the first point of the match, Williams returned a walloping shot at Hlavackova’s ankles that buckled her racket and drew an immediate response of awe from the crowd. Williams slowly walked to the other side of the baseline looking bellicose, with a scowl and her nostrils flared. The tone for the match was set.

“The first point of the whole match, I served and she returned like a 100-mile-per-hour forehand,” Hlavackova said. “That was like: ‘O.K., I know who I am playing. You don’t have to prove it to me.’ But she obviously wanted to prove it to me.”

Williams’s efficiency matched her intensity. In the first set, she pulverized the service line corners, nailing 12 winners against one unforced error. She won every game in four minutes or less, with the exception of the third game, which took seven minutes and induced perhaps her only concession during the match. She shouted, “Good shot,” after Hlavackova lobbed a return winner, one of the few shots out of Williams’s reach on the day.

Williams sealed the set with a 117-mile-per-hour ace up the middle that thudded loudly against the back wall.

Williams labored only a bit more in the second set. When she committed her first double fault of the match, she closed her eyes and shrieked. Then she continued to squelch the little momentum Hlavackova gained…

Read more: Hunter Atkins, NY Times

 

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