US Open 2015: Vinci’s Doubles Accumen Deserves Some Credit

Bethany Mattek-Sands won her first set versus Serena Williams and was competitive in the second set due to using some unorthodox shots for a singles match.  Mattek-Sands used a lot of doubles skills to steal a few points from Serena Williams. Mattek-Sands hit a few scoop shots, made ventures to the net, and took pace off the ball at times.  None of this fit the typical point patterns of today’s heavy baseline tennis.

Roberta Vinci’s slice backhand and better singles hands at the net than Mattek-Sands added to her ability to trouble Serena Williams in a single match situation.  At 3-3 in the 3rd set with Serena holding a game point, Vinci extended a point using her slice backhand.  Vinci eventually made her way to the net and put the ball away. This exhausting point shifted the 3rd set momentum for good.  In the final game of the match Serena lost two points making aggressive errors.  Vinci won two points by working her way to the net and putting the ball away with two touch half-volleys.  No one can say Vinci won solely due to Serena’s unforced error count in the 2nd and 3rd sets.  Vinci elicited a few of those errors by extending points, and Vinci had a reliable way to end points by moving forward.

Roberta Vinci defeating Serena Williams is the biggest upset since? Serena obviously did not play her best match, but Vinci’s skill set from being so accomplished in doubles clearly helped her. Vinci was able to finish some points at the net & use her slice backhand to extend points. Many other WTA players would have lost a given point due to either having a poor transition game from the baseline to the net or not being able to consistently absorb and redirect power with underspin. These are skills Vinci uses quite frequently in competitive situations when playing doubles.  If tennis is an arms race, how many ambitious players will be adding doubles play to their WTA schedules?

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