I was watching the spectacular rivalry of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in the 2015 final at the Australian Open. Many were hoping that Sharapova could finally break her losing streak against Serena, but unfortunately, it still was just not her time. Let’s look at each of these player’s strategies, and see what benefited and hurt in each of their games.
Sharapova had to be at the top of her game in order to beat the great Serena Williams. Sharapova hits hard, and wins by having a greater number of winners than unforced errors, it’s that simple. However, against Serena, nothing is simple. Serena is very awkward with her footwork, so in cases like this you need to try and jam your opponent by hitting deep to the center of the court. This is also a good strategy because Serena has untouchable angles. Against a hard hitter like Serena, she needs to hold her ground from the first ball and be the dictator. Serena is the type of player who gets emotional, so Maria needs to get under her skin by keeping the number of unforced errors low.
On Serena’s side, she also wants to be the dictator, and force Maria to give her shorter shots to put away. Because Serena’s weapon is her serve, she needs to not lose her service games by focusing on every single serve she hits. The biggest thing for her is her footwork, she needs to constantly move her feet, especially when her opponent is trying to jam her.
So let’s see what happens. Let us start with the victor, Serena Williams. You could tell right from the start of the match that she wanted to send a message to Maria that she is the dictator, and that she is ready to dominate. She attacked all of Sharapova’s second serves, forcing Maria to double fault to lose her service game. Most of the mistakes Serena made are considered “good mistakes,” because she sent an aggressive message to Maria by staying the aggressor no matter what position she was in on the court. Serena pretty much had a flawless match, just by being the one who decided what was going to take place on the center court that day. Maria on the other hand, had an upsetting match. She did not have a good game plan coming into the match, especially against someone like Serena. She needed to keep her balls deep and hard down the middle, but instead she gave Serena perfect balls out wide for Serena to smash her favorite cross court angle. She was trying to hit corners, which is exactly why Serena thinks that Sharapova has the perfect game for her: she is giving her what she wants. After continuously losing to Serena, I feel like it is about time that she realizes that her cross court game plan is incorrect. Muguruza is a good example of someone who knows how to beat Serena. If you watch that French Open match of 2014, you can see that all Muguruza does is hit down the middle, deep, and she was successful.
Well I hope that Maria changes her game plan soon, but for now, Serena remains the undisputed victor between them.