By Brodie McPhee
TORONTO, Canada – Injures are a part of any athlete’s career. Season ending and potentially life threatening injuries are an entirely different topic all together. Tennis has missed Serena Williams, and Serena Williams has missed tennis. In only her fourth tournament back, she is already showing the sort of natural dominance many hope and expect to see from her. Including herself.
â€œI was hoping to win Wimbledon, so no, I’m not exceeding my expectations,â€ said Williams, who defeated Lucie Safarova Friday night 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank. â€œA lot of people are still expecting me to be at the top level, and I expect it even more. It’s kind of interesting.â€ An understatement, to say the least. Williams won her third tournament back from injury, the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, and having not lost in Toronto, she’s been perfect on hard courts since her return.
The support of the crowd, especially larger crowds at night matches, hasn’t hurt. â€œI love the spectators in Toronto. I love Toronto. I mean, I’ve been getting really wonderful support, and it’s been amazing. Me likey.â€ Fans in Toronto urged Williams on in the second set, even though she had difficulty converting break points and would only gain the necessary break through a double fault. â€œI honestly could have had a better chance in the first set, but I lost some key points. It was all about maybe on or two points here that would have a difference and some double faults that didn’t make sense.â€
By the end, it was all Williams, who stepped it up as the final set tightened up at 2-2, and won 4 straight games to take the match. â€œI just think that it was just more or less about, you know, this is another level, just taking my game to a higher level and not remaining on the same platform.â€
It was a similar story to Thursday night’s match against Jie Zheng. Like Zheng, Safarova came racing out of the blocks looking poised on serve, and utilizing a confident forehand down the line. However, she could not keep up the same level of play over the course of the match, and it cost the left hander in the end.
Next up for Williams is her most difficult opponent yet, Victoria Azarenka, who has lost just six games in three matches. They will be featured as the Saturday night match, starting at 6:30pm Eastern time.
Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. Heâ€™s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.