You know when a match has really been a blowout? When the crowd doesn’t know what to do afterward. That was the case in Court Philippe Chatrier today, a place where the audience normally has no trouble expressing itself. But at the end of Serena Williams’ 6-0, 6-1, 46-minute thrashing of Sara Errani in today’s French Open semifinal, the tennis fans of Paris were left temporarily speechless. Rather than celebrating the American’s win, it sounded like they were having a moment of silence for the Italian.
That was understandable, because Serena barely allowed Errani to play tennis today. She won the first set in 21 minutes, won 52 points to her opponent’s 16, hit 40 winners against 12 errors, and, most impressive of all, only gave her opponent a chance to commit three unforced errors. Errani never even had an opportunity to make a mistake this afternoon.
This is, obviously, a good match-up for Serena. The undersized Errani lacks power and has one of the weakest serves in the upper echelon of the women’s game. Serena teed off on her returns and rarely allowed Errani to hit the ball from a balanced position. By the end, Williams was hitting hard and deep enough that she didn’t even have to aim for the sidelines to hit the ball past her speedy opponent. Serena did only make 52 percent of her first serves, but that isn’t really a problem when you’re winning 88 percent of points on your second serve.
Maria Sharapova, Serena’s final-round opponent, said she would watch some of this match; let’s hope she didn’t stick around for the whole thing. Can we expect more of the same when Serena and Maria meet on Saturday? Most likely, yes; Serena beat Sharapova 0 and 1 in the Olympic gold medal match last year. It’s possible, though, that after this semifinal Serena’s own expectations could be a little too high for her own good. She got nervous after losing mere points to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals, and she almost did the same today in the first game of the second set against Errani. Serena would do well not to expect to win every single rally against Sharapova, but right now I can't blame her for thinking it might happen.