K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Schynder loses it after an interesting opening set
Bangalore: Serena Williams swivelled in her chair, flashed a million-dollar smile while ‘Daddy Dearest’ Richard Williams took her pictures.
It was a smile that symbolised relief as well as ecstasy after the third-seeded American defeated Switzerland’s fourth-seeded Patty Schnyder 7-5, 6-3 to win the Canara Bank Bangalore Open singles title at the KSLTA courts on Sunday.
The final featured a razor’s edge first set followed by a ‘cat-and-mouse’ second in which Schnyder lost her edge towards the closing stages while Serena kept hers on the ascendant.
“I am happy to win and glad to be here and thanks for all the support,” Serena told a packed Centre Court audience.
A forehand return into the net sealed Schnyder’s fate in the ninth game of the second set and soon Serena was slamming autographed tennis balls into the stands though the first strike that sailed out into the Cubbon Park might have made M.S. Dhoni proud.
The climax might have been tame but in the first set, Schnyder’s icy veins did counter Serena’s muscular gameplan.
The set largely went with the serve but Serena had breaks in the sixth and twelfth games while Schnyder managed to break back just once in the seventh game marred by an erroneous line call that went in her favour.
But there was no mistaking Schnyder’s finesse with her forehands that often skimmed past a charging Serena at the net. The rallies — a mix of touch and a counter-punch — were riveting. Serena had the better of the exchanges as she cramped her rival’s forehand while Schnyder sliced a bit for that extra spin and mixed a few drop shots to vary the game’s pace. Schnyder staved off four set points, twice at 4-5 and twice at 5-6 before losing.
In the second set, Schnyder led 3-1 briefly before suffering a meltdown. “I don’t know what happened to me. My energy levels and concentration dipped and I think they went to Switzerland! And against a champ like Serena you just can’t do that. Except for that I was largely happy with my game and my forehands,” said Schnyder.
Serena won the remaining five games as Schnyder choked on her serve in the sixth and eighth games, with a double fault and a deviant backhand stringing up her errors. Serena fired in the aces when it mattered and also prevented Schnyder’s efforts to create space while returning.
And at the net, Serena was all ‘prowl and growl’ as she retrieved with audacity and smashed with ferocity, the rebounds often becoming mementoes for the corporate boxes!
Serena was richer by $95,500 while Schnyder bagged a runner-up cheque for $51,000. Serena had won her last major title at Miami in 2007.
The results (prefix denotes seeding): Singles: Final: 3-Serena Williams (USA) bt 4-Patty Schnyder (Sui) 7-5, 6-3. Semifinals: 3-Serena Williams bt 2- Venus Williams 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4).