Serena’s crash out at the Australian Open was a surprise.
Just four months before she had won 6-1 6-0 against Qiang Wang in what I described as one of the most awkward matches I have ever watched.
Qiang played incredibly well in Melbourne and it was a fantastic performance from the Chinese number one who it’s fair to say learnt her lesson from New York.
Serena in her press immediately after didn’t hold back on her performance.
“I can’t play like that again”
“I made too many mistakes to be an professional athlete today”
Was it that bad?
I don’t actually think it was. Serena started well but things did go off track from the seven time former champion.
Her backhand certainly dropped off but for me it stemmed from one thing and that was her foot-work. I felt she was a little bit wooden with her movement and if anything it felt nervous at stages during the match.
Out of last years major finals it kind of reminded me of the one against Simona Halep.
When you think of Serena hitting her ground strokes her feet are set and then she pulls the trigger but a lack of movement when got to positions to strike the ball didn’t allow her to hit cleanly.
Was it down to a lack of anticipation?
I think so, Qiang did a good job at sending the ball to the backhand or down the middle of the court and Serena could react quick enough.
The American did find some joy when she got into position to hit the forehand which you could say requires less time to prepare but the building blocks to get to a comfortable position weren’t allowed to be built.
By Serena’s standards it wasn’t near her best and I’m not surprised she was back on the practice court to make sure it doesn’t happen again as that is her character.
We don’t really know what the run of tournaments will be for Serena but she is set to appear in Fed Cup in early February.