MELBOURNE – Three quick thoughts after Serena Williams’s 6–0, 6–4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
• As is the case with
most all top players, Serena Williams possesses an overwhelming head-to-head advantage over Radwanska. She was 8–0 against the Pole entering Thursday's match. The record should now be 10–0, as Serena ought to earn double credit after today’s semifinal destruction. After 21 minutes, Serena had won the first set 6–0.
Radwanska was more aggressive—and took advantage of Serena losing the compass on her ground strokes—in the second set and led 4–3. Then Serena Williams remembered that she was Serena Williams. The two played in the 2012 Wimbledon final and the match went to three sets. Today’s encounter was, unfortunately, less competitive.
• Since last year’s U.S. Open, Radwanska had played as well as anyone in tennis. She won multiple titles—including the 2015 WTA Tour Finals, the biggest prize of her career. After an exile from the top 10, she came to Melbourne ranked No. 4 and will move to No. 3 now. She deserves credit for playing to her seeding here. But her deficit of power, mask-able against other players, was exposed by Serena, who simply did not give Radwanska time to set up shop. After the first set, she had one winner to Serena’s 18.
Radwanska solidified her chops—in a cold comfort kind of way—as the best player never to have won a major. If she ever hopes to do so, be assured Serena won’t be in her path.
• For a player who had won three of four majors in 2015, Serena came here swaddled with questions. She hadn’t played since last year’s U.S. Open semifinal loss. Her knee was allegedly being held together with duct tape. At 34, was time catching up to her? She didn’t win her first match here over Camila Giorgi 6–4, 7–5, so much as she survived it. Since then, it's been all one-way traffic. In domination mode, Serena has cruised, dropping zero sets (and dropping no more than five games), finding her compass with her shots and averaging barely an hour on the court. And so much for a “semifinal round jinx.” She is now 25–4 in Grand Slam semis. Here she is a match from winning her 22nd career major, tying her with Steffi Graf. And against the winner of Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta, it verges on inconceivable that she won’t win.
• Bonus: here’s a piece we did on Tennis Channel. It seems particularly relevant after this…well, destruction.