Making her Centre Court debut at the 2012 Championships, Serena Williams hit 10 aces and 22 winners in dismissing Hungary’s Melinda Czink, 6-1, 6-4.
After the somewhat strained and emotional nature of Williams’ first-round victory over Barbora Zahlalova Strycova, the four-time champion was the picture of calm today, opening with three aces in her first service game before breaking to lead 3-1. In just 20 minutes she raced to a 6-1 lead.
Czink, who recently reached the round of 16 at the grass event in Birmingham and whose best result at Wimbledon came last year, when she reached the third round after defeating Sam Stosur, showed herself willing to attack Williams’ second serve, but she saw almost no opportunities to do so. Williams served 67 percent and consistently overpowered her opponent in the rare event of a baseline rally.
The first set was a thrashing, Williams winning 25 points to nine, but the second set was closer as Czink regrouped. The Hungarian left-hander settled down and raised her own first-serve percentage from 50 percent in the opener to 76 percent in the second. Gutting out a tough hold in the opening game by saving a break point after a double fault seemed to give her confidence, and she found an effective play in using her cross-court forehand to push Williams out wide to the backhand and elicit errors. Czink couldn’t match the depth with which Williams hits, but she did a better job finding short angles, saving a break point at 1-1 with the same play and holding after another Williams backhand error.
At 1-2, a double fault and a careless error off a short forehand saw Williams taken to deuce, but she put in a pair of big serves, fist-pumped convulsively, and found her service rhythm again, holding twice at love to make the score 4-4. It was the perfect moment to go on the attack on her opponent’s serve, and that was precisely what Williams did, chasing down a drop-shot for 0-15, then reading Czink’s cross-court forehand for a sweet backhand down-the-line winner on the run for 0-30. The Hungarian pulled it back to 30-30, but Williams would not be denied, hitting a backhand winner behind Czink for break point, then using her impressive foot-speed to again chase down a short ball and force an error and the break.
Serving the match out to love, Williams allowed herself a small clenched fist by her side as she came up to net, then calmly waved to the Centre Court crowd. With Serena once again looking settled and at home on the Wimbledon grass—and winning 96 percent of points behind her first serve to boot—it will only get harder for her opponents to believe they can put her off her stride.