SINGAPORE – Serena Williams has been bad at times before, but the 18-time Grand Slam champion rarely plays horribly. But, in her 6-0, 6-2 loss to Simona Halep, she never woke up and couldn’t keep her balls in court.
Without question, the young Halep was very solid, but she didn’t have to put together her best strokes. Really, all she had to was keep the ball in, move it around, and stay away from what could have been a panic when she need to finish the match off. That is exactly what the 23-years-old Halep did, who scored her first win over Williams, and did not shake at closing time.
Serena could not keep her forehand in the court, which is somewhat amazing that the American usually crushes her ball and strokes them close to the line. But not this day. Williams dumped it into the net, couldn’t see where the lines were, or even get on top of his heavy spins. Williams ended with 36 errors – in just 14 games – where the forehand errors were somewhere around 27. She may be her best server ever, but she didn’t murder the ball, only put in two aces. When asked about it later, Serena wasn’t messing around.
“My forehand was off today again. I guess it went on an early vacation,” she told Tennis.com. “Lord knows my serve was as well. My serve was at best in the 10-and-under division in juniors. Yeah, it was actually embarrassing I think describes the way I played. Yeah, very embarrassing.”
The great Williams was embarrassed early on. Halep came out firing early on, as she wanted to prove that she could stay with her and did, playing much more aggressively then she was in August of 2013 when Williams smoked her 6-0, 6-4 in Cincinnati. But No. 4 Halep has been much better this season, reaching the Roland Garros final where she nearly took down Maria Sharapova and gaining the Wimbledon semis.
She moved very quickly and kept pushing forward, keeping Williams deep with her forehand and backhand. Williams tried to slap his balls back, but was so erratic early on that she dropped an f-bomb by the third game.
Williams tried to keep into the second set and even thrown out a “C’mon” after a couple winners, but she could not become steady at all.
Halep showed a bright smile, while Serena was disgusted. And why not? The 33-year-old Williams loss is the worst match since 1998, when she went down to South Africa Joannette Kruger’s 6-1, 6-1 in Oklahoma City. No. 1 Williams wasn’t sure if she was going to play in Singapore because she has been dealing with a sore leg. But she is going to trot on, because she wants to show that she could win the title, plus she wants the fans she can watch her brilliant play. But Williams did admit to us after the loss that she does not feel fantastic. Not even close.
“Oh, God no,” she said. “I’m definitely not 100% okay. I’m just here playing, but I’m not nowhere near 100 percent.”
Williams praised Halep today, but she went further. In fact, Serena says that Simona had “the best match of her career.”
Williams has to face Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday and even though she could be limping, she is going to try very hard. Serena cannot stand losing, but she loves cheering — and winning.
“To be quite frankly honest, I’m looking forward to our next meeting because she is making me going to go home and work hard.”