Tennis

McNally yearns to play like Fed, instead of her victor Williams

Many American teenage girls grow up dreaming of becoming the next Serena Williams, but for Catherine McNally, who nearly delivered an upset for the ages against her compatriot, it is Roger Federer's game she covets.

Rather than trying to mimic the powerful style that Williams used to revolutionise women's tennis and collect 23 Grand Slam titles, the 17-year-old McNally prefers to model her game after the Swiss great.

"The big things are the way he carries himself on court. I think that's huge," McNally said, after her 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 second-round loss to Williams yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"I try to do the exact same thing. Also the way he plays, he serves and volleys, looks to get to the net. He takes a lot of time away from his opponents.

"I really like the way he plays, mixes in the slice, the drop shot, volleys really well. There's so many things I like from his game. Hopefully I can keep working on those and become just like him."

The American wild card did her best impression of the 20-time Grand Slam winner in her second-round clash with Williams, as she relied on a serve-and-volley approach and lethal slice backhand that did well to unsettle Williams for long stretches.

While McNally, who was not broken until the sixth game of the second set when she fell behind 4-2, ran out of steam in her bid to derail the six-time champion, she still managed to impress the world No. 8.

"It was definitely something to get used to," Williams said of McNally's playing style.

"You don't play players like her that have such full games.

"She just overall played really well."

McNally, competing in only her sixth tour-level event and against the highest-ranked player she has faced, showed she was anything but star-struck as she took the court under the lights inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Instead, McNally played shots from Federer's repertoire that gave her a fighting chance.

"I walked out there and I had the chills. That was the most insane atmosphere," said McNally. "It was just an unbelievable experience, something that I'll never forget." - REUTERS

Tennis