Serena Williams Looks Sharp in Her Round 1 Win in her Final Tournament

Serena Williams 2022 US Open

Serena Williams is not ready to retire yet! In just her fifth singles match of 2022, Serena came out looking sharp and defeated Danka Kovinić in straight sets. Most surprising is how sharp Serena looked considering she has won just one match since last June. Serena seemed to be rusty starting the match, getting into a quick 15-40 hole on serve after two early double faults. She immediately picked up her game and held serve to begin the match and immediately broke for a 2-0 lead. A back and forth first set saw a total of five breaks and Serena prevail 6-3.

While Serena was aggressive on return and looked strong, her serve was a bit of a concern with five double faults, just a 33% win rate on her second serve, and twice being broken. While her serve was not fully dominant, she used it to get out of tough situations on several occasions in both sets. What was even more impressive, is how Serena played from the baseline. She moved well and fought in many long rallies, looking just as fit as her 27-year-old opponent.

After a strong, yet shaky first set, the big question would be if Serena was fit enough to continue to play at a high level. She quickly answered it by dominating, moreso on serve, winning 84% of service points and not facing a single break point all set. She still won half of her points on return and held an impressive 11 to 7 winners to unforced errors ratio. Kovinić kept it close for the first few games, but Serena was simply too much and still managed to overpower her opponent.

How Far Can She Go

While Serena looked brilliant in round one, she will still need to up her game even more to make a run. She looked out of sorts in her last match before the US Open against Emma Raducanu but managed to look like a new player tonight. She will have to ensure she plays like she did tonight and has fully moved on from where she was before. While Serena played well, Kovinić did her several favors. She had eight double faults with many coming at key points in the match, and won just 31% of points on second serve. Kovinić also converted just two of her ten break chances and made several ugly errors in those tight situations.

Serena plays #2 seed Anett Kontaveit next who will be a far greater challenge. Kontaveit has struggled of late so she is vulnerable, though Serena will have to limit errors and double faults. However, many would have not given Serena much of a chance before the tournament, but they way she played today shows that she can certainly win the match. Kontaveit will be favored, but Serena showed that attacking second serves, serving big when facing break points, and hitting huge crosscourt shots in rallies can allow her to beat anyone. Serena’s play was incredibly encouraging in fans’ hopes that she can continue the magic in her final career tournament.

Main Photo from Getty.