Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kerber dominates Serena for first Wimbledon crown

Angelique Kerber rejoices after winning the 2015 Bank of the
West Classic at Stanford. Photo by Mal Taam
   Serena Williams must wait at least one more Grand Slam tournament to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles titles.
   Angelique Kerber, meanwhile, moved within one title of a career Grand Slam.
   Considering this was only Williams' fourth singles tournament since delivering her first child, Kerber's victory in today's Wimbledon final wasn't shocking. But the one-sided outcome -- 6-3, 6-3 in 65 minutes -- was.
   "Serena was off-balance, off-kilter today," analyst Chris Evert said on ESPN's broadcast. "Kerber really pushed her around and absorbed her power. Serena knows she didn't play her best. It just wasn't there today."
   The 11th-seeded Kerber played outstanding defense as usual, keeping the ball in play until the 25th-seeded Williams made an error. Kerber finished with 11 winners and only five errors to Williams' 23 and 24, respectively.
   "The statistics speak for themselves," Evert said. "Angie made only five unforced errors and took advantage of an error-prone Serena. Maybe we expected too much for Serena to play seven matches in only her fourth tournament back."
   The grass surface favored Williams, the more powerful, offensive player.
   "The surface is not conducive to (Kerber's) game," Evert asserted. "I think that makes the win more satisfying for her."
   Kerber needs only the French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam. She reached three major finals in 2016, beating Williams in the Australian Open and Karolina Pliskova in the U.S. Open and losing to Williams at Wimbledon.
   Kerber inevitably suffered a letdown last year, failing to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   "I think without 2017, I couldn't win this tournament," the 30-year-old left-hander told reporters. "I think I learned a lot from last year, with all the expectations, all the things I go through. I learned so many things about myself, about the things around, how to deal with this, how to make my day schedule.
   "I try to enjoy every single moment now, also to find that motivation after 2016, which was amazing. I thought to have such a year again is impossible. But now I just try to improve my game, thinking not too much about the results, trying to be a better tennis player, a better person, yeah, trying to enjoy my tennis again."
   Kerber joined Venus Williams as the only players to beat Serena Williams twice in a Grand Slam final and became the first German woman to win Wimbledon since her idol, Steffi Graf, triumphed for the seventh time in 1996.
Serena Williams prepares to serve at Indian
Wells in 2016. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Williams played in her first Grand Slam final since beating Venus in the 2017 Australian Open.
   "It was a great opportunity for me," said Serena, who will turn 37 in September. "I didn't know a couple of months ago where I was, where I would be, how I would do, how I would be able to come back. It was such a long way to see light at the end of the road, kind of.
   "So I think these two weeks have really showed me that, OK, I can compete. Obviously, I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam. I can come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams."
   Williams and Kerber combined to win the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford four times in five years. Williams defeated Kerber in 2014 for her third title in the tournament, and Kerber beat Pliskova for the 2015 crown.
   The Bank of the West Classic ended a 21-year run at Stanford in 2017, but Williams plans to play in its replacement, the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State. Kerber, however, is not entered in the July 30-Aug. 5 tournament.
   Although Williams failed to tie Court's record, Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) equaled John Newcombe's mark of 17 Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
   No. 7 seeds Bryan and Jack Sock of the United States topped No. 13 Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
   It was Bryan's first major title without his twin brother Bob, who's out with a hip injury, and first since the 2014 U.S. Open. By reaching the semifinals, Mike Bryan assured that he will become the oldest man to be ranked No. 1. At 40 years, 78 days, he will break the record of Daniel Nestor, who was 40 years, 5 days old when he was last No. 1 on Sept. 9, 2012.
   Sock also earned the Wimbledon men's doubles crown with Vasek Pospisil of Canada in 2014. In Northern California Challengers, Sock reached the doubles final in Sacramento in 2011 and won the Tiburon singles title in 2012.
   No. 3 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic won their second consecutive Grand Slam title, beating No. 12 Nicole Melichar of Stuart, Fla., and Kveta Peschke, a 43-year-old Czech, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.
   No. 12 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Kevin Anderson will meet for the men's singles championship on Sunday at 6 a.m. California time (ESPN).
   Djokovic completed a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8 victory over No. 2 Rafael Nadal in a 5-hour, 15-minute match suspended by curfew after three sets on Friday.
   Djokovic is 5-1 against Anderson with a five-match winning streak. In their last meeting, Djokovic prevailed 6-7 (6), 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2015 en route to the title.

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