WIMBLEDON, England—Mornin'. The women's final is almost upon us, and I'm probably one of the few people here in the press room who isn't prepared to hand Serena Williams the title and fast forward to the Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer men's final. There's no doubt that the planets seem aligned for a beatdown; something like Serena pounding out 32 aces in a 6-1, 6-0 rout. But when you live by the sword you die by the sword. And if Serena's serve deserts her, things could get interesting and even ugly.
I say "ugly" because one of the major factors in play here will be the fact that this is Agnieszka Radwanska's first Grand Slam final. And nobody knows how someone else is going to react to that loaded privilege. Some freeze up, others shed the pressure like ducks shed water. So put yourself in Radwanska's shoes in the best case scenario: She's on Centre Court and, contrary to all logic and punditry, in a position to beat Serena Williams. Will she have what it takes to get the job done? I keep thinking back to that narrow escape Serena had Jie Zheng in the third round, the one that ended 9-7 in the third. Serena has cleaned her game up since then, but each day is a new one.
Let's look at some of their tournament numbers; Serena has the edge in the italicized entries, Aga in the bold-faced ones:
Aces: Serena, 85 (four shy of the Wimbledon record she established in 2010); Aga, 14
First-serve points won: Serena, 80%; Aga, 68%
Second-serve points won: Serena, 62%; Aga, 52%
Service games won/lost: Serena, 66-6; Aga, 49-10
First serve conversion percentage: Aga, 74%; Serena, 65%
Fastest serve (first & second): Serena, 120 & 102 M.P.H.; Aga, 106 & 89 M.P.H.
Returns in: Aga 84%; Serena, 73%
Winners (including serve): Serena, 207; Aga, 109
Break points won: Aga, 29 of 56; Serena, 19 of 38
Unforced errors (forehand, backhand, total): Aga, 25-25-56; Serena, 38-36-81
Forced errors (F,B,T): Aga, 62-48-115; Serena, 80-92-175
Total net points won: Aga, 69 of 104; Serena, 60 of 69
Alright. Numbers can be deceptive, and match-ups matter. But you can see from these statistics that Serena dominates Aga most in serve-related categories. If it isn't a blowout, this one could be a lot closer than many people expect.