Even Maria Sharapova, who completed a Career Grand Slam in spring by winning the French Open, was not close to stopping Serena Williams, who dropped only 17 games en route to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Our contributor Omair is bringing us his view of the match.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, a dream final any tennis fan would have wished for. The only two active players with Career Slams, but neither with an Olympic gold medal before today’s match. Both players knew that one of them would walk off the court smiling and completing the Career Golden Slam.
Serena entered the match as a favorite, having not lost to the Russian since 2004, and having beaten world No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals at the loss of only three games. Sharapova was clearly the underdog, but no one had expected the gold medal match to end up the way it did, Sharapova winning just one game in the entire match and losing 6-0 6-1.
Serena got off to a flying start bageling the Russian in the first set in just 30 minutes. Sharapova’s best chance to make any move came in the second set with Williams serving at 3-1. Sharapova moved ahead to 40-15 on Williams’ serve, but that was the maximum where Sharapova would get as Serena fired two clean winners to save the two break points and never looked back from then on, ending the match with back-to-back aces (Serenaesque way).
Let’s have a look at what the numbers say about the gold medal match:
Sharapova’s first serve percentage was not bad, it was the points won on her first serve that let her down. How do you expect to win against Serena winning just 50% of your first serve points? Serena won 29% more points on her first serve compared to Sharapova.
The numbers tell us that Sharapova’s serving demons haunted her today, as she served five double faults and won only 13% points on second serve. Sharapova won just two of the 15 points played on her second serve, whereas Serena won 64% (9 of 14).
As if that was not enough, Serena won a whopping 38% more points compared to Sharapova when returning the serve. Sharapova could not capitalize on the double break point chance, while Serena won five of the seven break point chances she got.
Serena played a very clean match. Her winners-unforced errors differential was +17, for Sharapova it was -4.
It was clearly a bad day for Sharapova, probably a day when she just had no clue as to what to do on court, and it seemed that she would love to be anywhere but on the court. It was the most lopsided gold medal match since tennis was inducted in the Olympics again in 1988, all the credit to Serena for showing yet another display of master class tennis.
Sharapova may find comfort in that she won the silver medal. Serena continues to go on, and with the win today she became the only tennis player in history to complete a Career Golden Slam both in singles and doubles, a superb end to the Olympics for a great player who has won 14 Grand Slams.
For more Omair’s articles, please visit his Stats Corner on Women’s Tennis Blog.