William and Kerber set for Australian Open with nothing to spare

When Serena Williams steps onto Rod Laver Arena on Saturday evening, it will be her 26th time competing in a Grand Slam final.

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The 34-year-old has won the Australian Open on six occasions previously — most recently last year — and earlier in the fortnight said as gets older, she has “nothing to lose” heading into big tournaments.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

At the other end of the court, conversely, will stand German Angelique Kerber; a plucky 28-year-old who is competing in just the first Grand Slam final of her career.

The gulf in career achievements is massive to say the least and, as a result, Kerber too said she had “nothing to lose” as she prepares for the biggest match of her career — an Australian Open final against an unstoppable world No. 1.

And while on paper the final might look like a cakewalk for Williams, who is chasing her Open-era record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title, there is one thing about Kerber which could yet stand in her way.

The German will be the first left-hander that Williams will have played since before the 2015 US Open.

If any one potential opponent could throw a spanner in the works for Williams, it would be Kerber, whose raking forehand and powerful serve can match the dominating Williams in the final.

But form counts for a lot in tennis and Williams is yet to drop a set this tournament.

The American even cast an eye over the last calendar year, and said — despite winning three Grand Slams in 2015 — she cannot remember a more complete performance in a Slam than at this year’s Australian Open.

“I would say this is probably the best slam I’ve played in a year, and I’ve won a lot in a year,” Williams said in her pre-final press conference.

However, Serena recalled a match against Kerber almost two years ago in which the German shocked the world No. 1 in Cincinnati. The no. 1 seed said ever since that loss, she has been keeping a careful eye on how the left-hander has been playing in major tournaments.

“It’s something I’ll never forget. I remember her serving really well and from then on out I’ve been really focused that she’s someone that I and everyone has to take so seriously,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, the German said she hasn’t felt overwhelmed heading into her maiden Grand Slam final berth.

“I feel very comfortable,” Kerber told the press, “I think this is the best start I’ve had to a year.”

“I mean, I reached the finals in Brisbane, then I played good matches here. I have a lot of confidence.”

Kerber admitted negotiating Williams serve will be a key to getting the upper hand in the match.

“She’s serving unbelievably well and returning well also,” Kerber said. “I think the first few points are going to be very decisive in the match.”

“But I have nothing to lose. I have won against her once, but here I must play the best I can.”

If Williams wins in Melbourne she will draw level with German Steffi Graf as the winner of the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era, while Kerber will have her first Grand Slam trophy to add to her trophy cabinet.
The women’s final will be played in Melbourne on Saturday evening. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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