Sam Stosur was fantastic on Sunday. She outplayed, out hustled, out served, and definitely out – composured Serena.
And where so many players are reactive if not passive against Serena, Sam took the game to her with attacking returns, excellent serving, and overall superlative play. I would imagine that is the best Sam has ever played, and to think it came in a final, to a player who had prior to this occasion won only two singles titles on the WTA tour.
A note about the press. Somehow far too many became fixated on the disputed call, where Serena yelled prior to Sam’s reply. The rules are the rules, a similar call was made against Bartoli, and that should be enough. But in the initial post match movements, the cameras focused on Serena packing her bags rather than on the beaming champion. Are we so controlled by the culture of celebrity that we couldn’t simply train the cameras on Sam. And finally, so much of the post match commentary again focused on the disputed call nonsense.
So here goes on non-nonsense. And for this one, the stats tell the story –
- Serena served 52% on first serves and won 62% of those points
- Sam served 65% on first serves and won 73% of those points
- Serena won 33% of the points on her second serve
- Sam won 63% of the points on her second serve
- The were more or less equal in the winners department Serena hit 19 and Sam hit 20
So the story here is serve and return. Sam handled Serena, especially Serena’s second delivery, and please remember the glorious inside out forehand winner she struck from the ad court on her third championship point.
And secondly, Sam had her way on service games, with Serena really unable to attack or in some cases even keep the return in play.
So before you go out on court and work on your own kick serve, for truly Sam has the best one by far on the women’s tour, take some time to see and or recall how she used her legs, how she arched her back to reach up and left at impact, and how much action she had with her arm, forearm and wrist on the hit. Her’s is a heavy if not vicious spinning delivery. Sometimes a little flatter and to the corners, other times kicking up and away from Serena when out wide in the ad, or kicking up and into her forehand jamming her in this same ad court.
I have footage of Sam’s serve, and it is one of the instructional elements within Mastering the Kick Serve. If you are interested please check it out but be advised, there are a number of elements to master for your own kicker, and you have to be careful with your lower back (from arching) and your shoulder (from reaching up and to the left).
P.S. As to the more ways than one comment in the title, two things. Sam was scheduled on the grandstand court for her semifinal match, and was put at somewhat of a disadvantage, for she never played on Arthur Ashe stadium whereas Serena played most (if not all) of her matches there. And Sam made no fuss about this at all. But second, some years ago Sam volunteered for a research project at Stanford University on the serve, I was allowed to observe, and Sam and her coach were open, friendly, no star presence, no special treatment, just two delightful Aussies. Sam, your victory on Sunday made my day!