Homework for Halep: How to beat Serena in a Wimbledon final

By Sports Desk July 12, 2019

Simona Halep will face what she described as a "big challenge" in her first Wimbledon final against the great Serena Williams on Saturday.

Halep knows all about the pressure of playing in grand slam deciders, losing three before claiming her maiden major title at the French Open last year.

The former world number one is also well aware of how hard it is to beat 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, having come out on top in only one of their 10 encounters.

Halep's solitary triumph over the veteran, winner of the singles title at Wimbledon on seven occasions, came at the 2014 WTA Finals.

So how can the Romanian go about denying the American a record-equalling 24th major success at SW19?

Here is what the three women to have beaten the 37-year-old legend in a Wimbledon final have said about achieving the feat.

 

SHARAPOVA: NO EASY ROAD TO BEATING SERENA

Williams was expected to be too strong for Maria Sharapova, but the 17-year-old Russian pulled off a stunning 6-1 6-4 victory in 2004.

The teenager showed no fear on Centre Court, blowing away a strong favourite who had won the title the two previous years to claim her first major title.

Sharapova went on to become a fierce rival of Williams' and claims she heard her crying in the locker room after dethroning her on the hallowed grass 15 years ago.

She said of the challenge of facing Williams: "There's no easy road to victory. You're going to have your bumps. That's the way I see it."

 

VICTORY SEEMED SO FAR AWAY - VENUS

While losing any final is hard to take, losing to your sister should soften the blow somewhat.

It was Venus who won the battle of the siblings in 2008, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for a fifth time following a 7-5 6-4 victory.

There were long baseline exchanges between the heavy-hitters and the older sister came from a break down in both sets to come out on top.

Venus said: "When you're in the final against Serena, five [titles] seems so far away. She played so awesome so it was really a task."

 

STAYING 'COOL' HELPED KERBER PUT THE HEAT ON

Angelique Kerber stopped Williams from matching Margaret Court's tally of 24 grand slam singles titles with a 6-3 6-3 win last year.

Kerber made only five unforced errors in a brilliant performance, hardly putting a foot run to deny Williams her first title since becoming a mother.

The German said: "I didn't feel like she lost the match, I won it.

"I was trying not to think too much that I was playing against Serena, staying on my side of the court. Staying a little bit cool, being not too emotional.’

Related items

  • Osaka hails 'special' hometown victory after cruising to Pan Pacific Open title Osaka hails 'special' hometown victory after cruising to Pan Pacific Open title

    Naomi Osaka cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 to claim her maiden Pan Pacific Open title, a homecoming victory she hailed as "special".

    World number four Osaka had previously finished as runner up in the tournament in 2016 and 2018, when the WTA event was held in Tokyo.

    However, a switch to the 21-year-old's birthplace Osaka did the trick, with the top seed bouncing back from the disappointment of her round of 16 exit in the US Open in style.

    Having not won a trophy since securing her second successive grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, Osaka powered past the world number 41 in straight sets on Sunday.

    "It's really special for me to win here," Osaka, who won 100 per cent of her first service points, said.

    "This is the city where I was born and honestly I think that gave me a lot of power to play constantly match after match. I just want to say thank you to everyone.

    "I just love playing here, so I'll be here next year, though it's probably going to be in Tokyo."

    Osaka made her intentions of sealing a swift victory clear from the off, racing into a 2-0 lead as Pavlyuchenkova failed to cope with the former world number one's powerful serves.

    A superb lob ended a frenetic rally to make it 5-2 - a Pavlyuchenkova error then handing Osaka the set in the next game.

    Another early break followed for Osaka in set two and, despite Pavlyuchenkova saving three break points before holding off two match points, victory was ensured when the Russian clipped into the net.

    Osaka's triumph is her first on Japanese soil, while she became the first home player to win the Pan Pacific Open since Kimiko Date in 1995.

  • Kyrgios keeps Team World in contention at Laver Cup Kyrgios keeps Team World in contention at Laver Cup

    Nick Kyrgios bounced back from a tough defeat to Roger Federer to keep Team World in the mix for a breakthrough Laver Cup victory in a doubles success alongside Jack Sock.

    Europe, who have won the prior two editions of the competition, lead 7-5 heading into the final day, but they might have had one hand on the trophy already if not for Kyrgios.

    A home side able to name a line-up where each of their six players are ranked higher than John Isner, their opponents' top star, celebrated singles triumphs for Federer and Rafael Nadal but found Kyrgios in determined mood late on Saturday evening.

    Team World had struck first to level the contest at 3-3, with wins on the second day worth two points - double their first-day value, while third-day victories earn three.

    Isner saw opponent Alexander Zverev fall apart and clinched a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 10-1 success.

    Pegged back, matters looked to be going from bad to worse for Europe when the dangerous Kyrgios took the first set against Federer.

    But the Swiss veteran recovered to triumph 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 10-7 and it appeared to be plain sailing from there, with Nadal winning the final singles contest of the day, easing past Milos Raonic 6-3 7-6 (7-1) to regain complete control of the competition.

    "Being here for me is a very positive energy," Nadal said. "I like being around such a great team and the crowd is amazing.

    "I feel very lucky [to win] the first set. I started to play better later in the match and I think I played a very good tie-break in the end."

    The Spaniard was back on court to close out Saturday's play, teaming up with Stefanos Tsitsipas, to take on Kyrgios and Sock.

    However, Kyrgios gave an early indication of what was to come as he started in impressive fashion again with some blistering winners in an opener Team World dominated, breaking swiftly and protecting the serve with ease.

    The Australian was guilty of gifting away the decisive first break in the second set, making a mess of a seemingly straightforward volley, before coming into his own again with the match level.

    Nadal was too often left to plough a lone furrow by Tsitsipas and Kyrgios excelled at the net, greeting each European error in typically extravagant fashion.

    Fittingly, after a one-sided tie-break, the match was clinched on Kyrgios' serve 6-4 3-6 10-6 to set up an intriguing final day.

  • Donnarumma a picture of mature calm amid derby noise Donnarumma a picture of mature calm amid derby noise

    City derbies, with their heady blend of familiarity and ferocity, can make enemies of neighbours and friends at the best of times.

    In Saturday's Derby della Madonnina, Inter ultimately secured the bragging rights through an authoritative 2-0 win, but midway through the first-half their wing-back Danilo D'Ambrosio was likely ruing Gianluigi Donnarumma's pre-match words.

    "With D'Ambrosio, I have a beautiful relationship," the Italy and Milan goalkeeper told DAZN. "He is my compatriot and he also lives near me."

    Best mates with the opposition are we, Danilo? Probably best not to hit the post from three yards out with the goal gaping in that case.

    In truth, it was a slice of fortune Donnarumma earned on a day when longevity and goalkeeping greatness were a focus in Serie A.

    Gianluigi Buffon played his 902nd club match earlier on Saturday as Juventus battled to a 2-1 home win over Hellas Verona, matching the mark set by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

    Donnarumma entered senior football as a fully formed teen sensation, already dubbed Buffon's heir. He was also on the books at Milan from the age of 14, steeped in the history of a club defined by one-club men like Maldini. They were big gloves and boots to fill.

    Still only 20, he has travelled plenty of road since then. For a long time, none of it felt particularly smooth.

    Mino Raiola's typically bombastic attempts to engineer more money and a blockbusting transfer for his client drove a wedge between Donnarumma and the Milan faithful. Then there was the steady drip, drip, drip of errors that threatened to become a deluge.

    When Inter beat Milan 1-0 11 months ago, Mauro Icardi – another man well-versed in player-fan relations – scored the winner after a wretched misjudgement from the Rossoneri keeper. On this occasion, it often felt like Donnarumma and his 6ft 5in frame was the only realistic bridge between a yawning gulf in class.

    His first big save came in the 18th minute, thwarting Romelu Lukaku after Lautaro Martinez's cute pass played in his strike partner.

    Donnarumma's stop to deny the impressive Martinez was stunning three minutes later, with D'Ambrosio on the rebound seemingly one of those briefly distracted.

    There was no suggestion of a neighbourly favour when the Inter man propelled himself skywards for a thumping overhead kick. Again, Donnarumma saved and an offside verdict meant Martinez converted the rebound in vain.

    A cruel deflection from Marcelo Brozovic's speculative 49th-minute strike felt like the only way Donnarumma was likely to be beaten at that stage, although Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season scarcely seemed under threat from that point.

    A bustling Lukaku is brimming with confidence and directed home a fine header to seal victory. Antonio Conte has always felt his best teams operated near their peak with a "point of reference" striker. Inter have that in Lukaku and he might just take them all the way to the Scudetto.

    Milan's aims under Marco Giampaolo must be more modest after they managed a solitary shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes – the exciting front two of Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao too frequently isolated as playmaker Suso faded to the margins.

    But in Donnarumma they have a young man who has weathered a storm, partially of his own making, and is back on the road to superstardom. He and Milan might yet enjoy a beautiful relationship of their own.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.