Serena Williams knew this was a match that she could not afford to start in a sluggish manner like her match in the previous roud, In fact several of Williams’ matches in her march to the calendar year Grand Slam have begun with Williams falling behind and giving up the first set. But her opponent in this match, fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is so different from every other opponent she has faced on this Grand Slam journey.
Mattek-Sands is probably the most underrated American player, she plays an aggressive style of tennis but in the past she was mainly recognized for her crazy outfits both on and off the court, her wild hair colours and her colourful tattoos. Struggles with injuries including two hip surgeries nearly derailed her career. But Mattek-Sands is a fighter and she attacked her physical rehab programs with the same ferocity she shows on the court. Mattek-Sands husband Justin Sands travels with her often with their dog in tow.
In the last year or so tennis fans have seen what great tennis Mattek-Sands is capable of. With close friend Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic as her partner, Mattek-Sands has won both the Australian Open and the Wimbledon ladies doubles titles. Mattek-Sands also won the mixed doubles title this year at Wimbledon with American Mike Bryan to go along with the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open partnered with Horia Tecau.
Mattek-Sands brings her variety of shots to her singles game and has shown her tenacity in her matches at this US Open. In the first round she defeated Kateryna Kozlov of the Ukraine in straight sets. Mattek-Sands followed up that win with a stunning victory over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe who had defeated another American Sloane Stephens in the previous round.
In the first set against Williams, Mattek-Sands showed her variety of shots but she also showed her athleticism keeping balls in play and extending points. What was more impressive was that Mattek -Sands was able to keep calm and serve out the set winning it 6-3.
In the second set as expected Williams stepped up her game and really starting applying pressure on her opponent’s service games. But twice down 15-40 Mattek-Sands dug deep and found a way to hold serve. With the crowd cheering for Williams with every point she won, she was able to finally break Mattek-Sands and take the second set 7-5.
So it came down to the final set. And for the final set a very focused, calm and determined Serena Williams showed up. But Mattek-Sands continued to fight and continued to play her attacking style. And the points continued to be exciting and creative.
In the end Williams got the win, but she worked hard for it. Mattek-Sands pushed Williams and in the process produced an extremely entertaining match. Both players should be congratulated on a match well played.
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