Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Angelique Kerber is a giant killer in mind, and with shots that appear to go pop. How does a woman with the mildest of serves terminate the title hopes of one Maria Sharapova? You know, the one with the sizzling serve, not to mention barnstorming ground-strokes, that could issue many a storm warning and keep her foe holed up for weeks. The only storm warning Kerber's serve should or could send out is to itself to cover up if it does conjure up the spirit to wander onto centre court.

The German pulls off a three set victory, winning 6-4 in the third, armed with nothing more than a slug gun, while her Russian foe is sitting on her Countries entire nuclear arsenal, but unfortunately nobody gave her the instruction manual on how to operate it.

This was like David ( 5ft8") versus Goliath (6ft2"), except this time it was Davina and Davina turned out to be divine and divine was Angelique who became a quarterfinalist.

Once again, how did she win? It can only be mind. They say ninety-five percent of top level sport is those top few inches. In Kerber we now have irrefutable proof. This Woman has no right to win. At least not in this encounter. Yes, she is ranked number seven in the World - And that in itself is remarkable - but this is a bent so undermanned that you keep expecting her to send out an SOS at any given moment.

Her serve has the velocity of a mid summers breeze - And that's just her first serve. Neither does it have the acuteness of a Petra Kvitova. So, no wide serve from the Ad side of the court and no other discernible threats . . . And she wins. Remarkable. Without an improved serve it is undeniable that she will not threaten the number one ranking. What this nugget of timeless effort will do, with that sturdy mind, is jump straight back up every time she is knocked down and continue pestering the hell out of some very exasperated foes.

Which is effectively what she did to Sharapova. It's not like the fifth seed didn't offer any resistance. To the contrary, Sharapova regularly manipulated Kerber around the wearing greenery of centre court, moving her from side to side, wrong footing her with inside out forehands and the like. But Kerber scrapped and fought and clawed and scratched, whatever it took. Many a time she appeared on the ropes and dazed in anticipation of that final knockout punch. Yet, one more shot kept coming back and inevitably Sharapova would generate errors at the costliest of times.

That is the thing with Kerber though, she is very definitely the real deal. What you see is what you get. This is no fraudulent fraulein. Win or lose, you know her all has been given. She'll run, she'll scamper and she'll put a dampener on the hope of a good sprinkling of most competitors.

Especially with that mind. Yes, that mind. This is a Lady that should avoid going through airport security anytime soon for fear of attracting any untoward attention. Such is the state of her mind, it appears to be fitted out in the steeliest of impregnable fortitude. She doesn't have the angles to her strokes that Sharapova has. Put simply, she doesn't have Sharapova's talent. What she does have is the capacity to play to her optimum for three sets. She did. With nerves of steel. The Russian did not. At 5-4 up in the third and attempting to break serve to close out the encounter, she had numerous match points. She wasted some of those opportunities, but kept fighting. It took awhile, but finally she closed it out. Fortunately she did, for there is only so long the lesser talent can hold on for.

With Serena Williams already knocked out, Sharapova was many people's favourite to take title. Not anymore. If Kerber is to cause more upsets, she will need to go through Bouchard first, then Halep or Sabine Lisicki and possibly Kvitova. That's a lot of power to contend with.

Sharapova will, of course, go home titleless again. Ten years since she won her solitary Wimbledon title, there is still time to garner another as she is only twenty-seven. The young guns are barking, though. Before long the likes of Kvitova, Bouchard, Halep, Stephens and co will be biting. Best to take her shot soon, because when that bite does come, she may never recover.

And even if they don't, there is always Angelique Kerber to put paid to the best laid plans.

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