Serena Williams experienced much frustration in losing her fourth-round Australian Open match to Ekaterina Makarova.
“I can think of a hundred things I can do better.”
This is how Williams described her dismissal at the first Grand Slam event of 2012.
That’s a lousy exit.
When you’re Serena Williams — a 13-time major champ, including five Australians — and your vanquisher is unseeded, 56th-ranked Makarova, who has lost in the first round of the last six tournaments she has played…that’s a lousy exit.
At one point during the second set, Makarova hit a winner near, but not next to, the baseline. Williams didn’t even run for the ball. It was then that this writer turned his attention elsewhere. Why? I decided that Williams was playing kind of…lousy. To verify: Williams won one return game the entire match (against an average server to below average server), made 37 unforced errors, served a low 52 percent, etc. Statistically, her bad play in this match could be documented endlessly.
Said Chris Evert, “I’ve never seen her play so poorly.”
Makarova, was, in truth, ripe for the taking. But she found serendipitous victory instead, saying, “I played her in Beijing and I was really afraid of her because she’s a great player and it’s really tough to play against her.”
Serena couldn’t even intimidate her way to a win — as she often does — on the hard courts of Rod Laver Arena. The Australian Open is a straight-shooting major — with its humanity-wilting heat and its opening-act, premier status. Either you’re ready for it or you’re not. Serena Williams was in no way ready to compete.
During a recent self-analysis diatribe, she offered a mild bombshell: “I don’t love tennis today, but I’m here…I don’t like working out. I don’t like anything that has to do with working physically.”
It sure seemed exactly that way versus Makarova.