WTA Finals: Serena sends warning to rivals
There were two excited boys seated just behind the media stand at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on the opening night of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and they had a little game going among themselves.
After cooing over Serena Williams' rocket serves early in her opening Red Group match against Ana Ivanovic - one of which was clocked at 203 kmh - they tried to guess the speed of her next serve.
They couldn't quite get it right, and neither could Ivanovic.
The Serb struggled with Williams' booming serves, falling 6-4, 6-4 to the world No. 1.
"The serve was the main difference today," said Ivanovic after the match, looking less her glamorous self and more like a battered boxer.
"Serena put a lot of pressure on my serve, and she served really well today. It created more pressure on my service game, and I didn't really feel my rhythm."
Williams hit 12 aces, winning 70 per cent of first-serve points, to Ivanovic's 63 per cent, with the former world No. 1 failing to register any ace.
Ivanovic moved Williams around the court, hitting a few glorious drop shots that made the American scramble somewhat uncomfortably.
But, if there were any doubts as to whether her problematic left knee would hold out, Williams quashed it, late in the first set.
Sprinting from the baseline across to the other corner of the court, Williams got to an Ivanovic drop shot, with the latter's return going long.
Her pumped fist and battle cries served as an exclamation to that point.
"I felt my knee a little, little bit. But, compared to what it was in Beijing, it felt so much better," said Williams afterwards. "I didn't have any fear at all."
If there was anything that bothered the 18-time Grand Slam champion, it was her low energy levels.
"At one point, I was up 4-1 in the first set, I was cruising, (then Ivanovic)...started playing really good tennis," said the 33-year-old.
"I felt my energy got a little low and I was trying to do everything I can to bring my energy up, and to fight - that's when the match really turned, it got super intense," added Williams, whose voice turned hoarse after shouting at herself during the 1hr 18min match.
Like Ivanovic pointed out, Serena's service game was the one thing that brought a smile to her face.
"I was pleased with my serve. Ana is a very aggressive returner and I went really hard at my second serve - I didn't push them," said Williams.
"I hit a few double-faults in the first few games but, after that, I was pretty clean, even though I was hitting some pretty aggressive second serves."
From her energy to the bullet serves she sent across the net, Williams reminded all watching why she is the best player in the world, niggly knee or not.
"I was trying to make more first serves and, in the second set, I did that, but sometimes against Serena that's not good enough," said Ivanovic.
"And it wasn't good enough today."
The rest of the field have been warned.
- Under-14 final: Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) beat Yuki Ando (Jpn) 5-7, 6-3, 10-4
- Under-16 final: Karman Kaur Thandi (Ind) beat Huan Hsiang-wen (Tpe) 6-4, 6-2
MAIN TOURNAMENT (RED GROUP)
- Serena Williams beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4
- Simona Halep beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-3
- Rising Stars final: Monica Puig (Pue) v Zheng Saisai (Chn)
MAIN TOURNAMENT (WHITE GROUP)
- Maria Sharapova v Caroline Wozniacki
- Petra Kvitova v Agnieszka Radwanska