You may wonder why someone who works in PR thinks they have any clue about how Heather Watson is going to beat Serena Williams but, having watched the game from a young age and with a coaching qualification under by belt, I am going to give it a go.
1. Hope Serena has a meltdown
When Serena is playing at even 80% she is completely unplayable, and the only woman who might be able to stop her is last year’s Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. However the one person that can beat Serena – is herself. Last year Serena lost to the up and coming Spaniard Garbine Murguruza at The French Open, winning just four games. Then, at Wimbledon, she lost to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the third round. At times she appeared as though she was in tears during the match. A few days after she lost her singles match, Serena returned to the court for her doubles game. But, barely able to stand up, she retired in the most bizarre circumstances from the match. It has since been reported in the Daily Mail that there could have been unrest between her coach and lover Patrick Mouratoglou. So, option one, Watson could hope for a tiff between the couple this evening!
2. The Serena Serve
Serena, without doubt, has the greatest serve ever in women’s tennis. Some pundits have even claimed that she currently has the best service action across both the men’s and women’s game. However, if Watson is able to dig any holes into the Serena serve, she will have to look at changing up where she stands on the return so that Serena is forced into serving into particular spots. Watson should stand wide, cover the middle and push back so that it breaks up Williams’ rhythm. Brad Gilbert made a very good point during the French Open, that many women stand too far forward and in the same spot when receiving Williams’ serve, enabling her to just pick them off at will.
3. Direction of groundstrokes
Williams is at her best off the ground when she is on the run, and her running forehand is the most dangerous in the game. Watson should look at playing flat and hard down the middle of the court giving Williams no angles off of either the forehand or backhand wing. Then, she should wait for the opportunity to go for the winner when the short ball turns up.
4. Serena on court
At the French Open, Williams was ill throughout the tournament and it appeared that opponents were losing focus as they thought the match was in their control. Watson needs to totally focus on her game and not be affected if it looks like Williams is ill or not performing at her best. Williams has also been fist pumping her way through the first two rounds and screaming ‘Come on’ at every opportunity, so it is important that Watson gives it back to her and gets the crowd really behind her and on Williams’ back. Although the Roland Garros have been incredibly unfair to Williams in the past, we know she can be really hurt personally by a crowd going against her. Let’s hope the Centre crowd behave slightly more like the French Open crowd and show their dissatisfaction if she starts playing up!
5. Serena at the net
When Williams was growing up, everyone was so impressed with her volleys and how she was willing to come forward. However, her volleys have seriously deteriorated as years have gone by and if Watson can draw Williams into the net, she will have a strong chance of either passing her, or of Williams making an error at the net. This is a very hard thing to do as Williams will be hitting the ball extremely hard and so it will be difficult to get the ball control to draw her into the net, but if the opportunity arises, she should go for it!