Williams says match was intense and good for her
The world’s number one in women’s tennis, Serena Williams, seemed rusty on Tuesday as she beat Andrea Petkovic, 6-4, 6-4 at the Brisbane International.
The number one seed won in 98 minutes to reach the quarter-finals, but her 36 unforced errors and 55 per cent serving accuracy showed Williams had much work to do.
It was her first competitive match of the season, ahead of the Australian Open which is the first Grand Slam of 2014 and is less than a fortnight away.
The German, Petkovic, was exactly what the defending champion needed at this point in the season. Ranked 43rd in the world but a top-10 player before injuries hampered her 2012 campaign, Petkovic ensured the five-time Australian Open winner had to fight for every point.
“It was an intense match, which was really good for me,” Williams told journalists. “(Petkovic) is a good player. She’s been in the top 10 before and she was on her way to being even better.”
In their only previous match, Petkovic took the American to three sets, on clay in Rome in 2010. She looked capable of doing so again after nullifying an early break and taking a 4-3 lead in the first set.
Williams held her serve to love and an easy missed volley into the net gifted the 17-times Grand Slam winner a break in the next.
This led to Petkovic slamming her racket into thigh, floor and bag in turn.
In her first tournament match since the 2013 WTA Championships in October, Williams showed frustration throughout at the extent of her erratic play. There were serves fired in at over 190 kilometres and 35 crunching winners, but even more mistakes. After errant serves she would often practise her ball toss or technique, reinforcing the sessions spent with her father, Richard, in Florida during the off-season.
“I’m a renowned perfectionist; I think I wrote the book on being perfect,”” Williams said. “I think it definitely helps me in a way. Also, it definitely holds me back at some moments. It’s just important for me to let the part that helps me kind of fill up and then the part that holds me back, just to let that go.”
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