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A perfect tenth Grand Slam title for Serena

Serena strolls to fourth Aussie Open triumph

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Originally published on 26/02/10 11:25

In truth, the first night session women’s Aussie Open final turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax. Serena Williams simply overpowered Dinara Safina for the loss of just three games, 6-0 6-3.

As the players took to the open-roofed Rod Laver Arena, Dinara Safina, playing in her second Grand Slam final, looked tense, and so it proved. She never really got into her stride losing the first set to love, and winning only 8 points. None of that should take away from Williams, who came out looking determined and played an almost faultless game.

Both players were jumping around at the net during the coin toss, Serena swinging her serve and Dinara mocking up groundstrokes. But that was as close as Safina could get to Serena until the change of ends at 0-5, when the players almost collided as they took back to the court for Serena to serve out the set.

Tonight, Serena Williams has the Daphne Akhurst memorial trophy and the No.1 ranking. For now, shes the best

The second set started promisingly for Safina when she broke Williams immediately to finally post a game on the scoreboard: maybe she had found the kick-start she desperately needed. Unfortunately for her she was broken straight back in the next game and soon found herself 4-1 down. The Russian was quick out of the chair for the sixth game and won her serve, but she had no chance of clawing back the breaks and it went with serve until the end. Serena took the final game to love. It was all over in one minute short of an hour.

Two womens singles finals have been completed here with less games, most recently in 1994 in the final between Stefi Graf and Arantxia Sanchez Vicario when Graf won 6-0 6-2.

The reactions of the players at the end said it all. Dinara looked devastated and unsurprisingly Serena looked ecstatic. Serena raised her arms in the air and walked towards her box. That makes it ten Slams for the American. Not only that, she regains the No.1 world ranking and takes home the $1.6million winner’s cheque no wonder she was smiling!

At the presentation Dinara was characteristically self-deprecating and apologised to the crowd if she had disappointed them today, describing herself as a ball boy. Serena was generous in saying that world No.3 had hit the ball well, remarking she was a great young player and they had put on a good show for womens tennis.

I think the crowd knew that this was not case: Serena had dominated from start to finish. And although Williams has the No.1 slot, its the fragility of some of the players now below her that has allowed this. While Serena, when she chooses to play, is still a crowd puller, this vacuum has created a real opportunity for a player to step up and mount a challenge to ignite real interest in the womens game again.

No doubt Dinara will return having learned from the experience. Since she entered the top ten she’s developed as a player in terms of her fitness and technical game as well as her mental approach.

I was not nervous, not even close like before the French Open Final. I couldnt even sleep the night. But today I slept good and everything was fine

But she knew what was at stake tonight. I would say she was much more experienced than I was today stepping on court, she said before admitting that Williams played well.

“She played exactly the way she had to play and she was much more aggressive and she was just taking time out of me, so I didnt have that much time to put back myself onto court.

Afterwards, when Serena eventually arrived at her press conference – not in the usual tennis kit, but immaculately groomed in a black blouse and trademark diamond hoop earrings (I didnt ask if they were real or not) – she gave us her assessment of the match. I think it was definitely one of my most dominant performances , especially considering it was a final. I was able to lift the level of my game in the final.

She also spoke afterwards about having drawn inspiration from watching the Nadal-Verdasco semi-final last night and admitted she would love to see Rafa do well.

No doubt Dinara will return having learned from the experience. I was not nervous, not even close like before the French Open Final. I couldnt even sleep the night. But today I slept good and everything was fine.

But she knew what was at stake tonight. I would say she was much more experienced than I was today stepping on court. She played exactly the way she had to play and she was much more aggressive and she was just taking time out of me, so I didnt have that much time to put back myself onto court. Praise for Serena indeed – but when asked who is the best players she has played, she still thinks thats Justine Henin.

But tonight Serena Williams has the Daphne Akhurst memorial trophy in her hands and the No.1 ranking. For now, shes the best.

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A perfect tenth Grand Slam title for Serena
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