Serena says she's now at her best
Serena Williams yesterday warned she was playing better now than when she won three Grand Slams last year, as Angelique Kerber attempts to halt the American juggernaut's record-equalling attempt in today's Australian Open final.
The world No. 1 was in a different class last year as she swept to the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles, losing just three matches out of 56 all season.
Despite being virtually untouchable, the 34-year-old believes her game is now on another level, with a near-flawless first set against Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals ample evidence.
Williams hit 18 aces to just four unforced errors in the 6-0 slaughter that the fourth-seeded Pole, who won only seven points in the set, declared was the best tennis she had ever faced.
And Williams, chasing her seventh Australian Open singles crown, said: "I would say this is probably the best Slam I've played in a year, and I've won a lot in a year.
"Again, I haven't won this one. But even if I don't win, I really can take away that I've been really consistent, and I want to continue that."
Williams dropped sets en route to all her Major titles last season but she is yet to do so at Melbourne Park ahead of her 26th Slam final.
She is attempting to equal Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Slam triumphs, having snared her first major title half-a-lifetime ago in 1999, and said she can still get better.
"I definitely can play more consistently and be more mentally stable," she said.
Kerber's never-day-die attitude - inspired by Graf, who hit with her last year and messaged her after the semis - has helped her into the first Major final of her career, and she plans to enjoy the occasion.
"Nothing to lose means I can go out there and try to play like I'm playing, without pressure, without nothing," said the 28-year-old, who sent two-time champion Victoria Azarenka packing on her way to the decider.
"I think when you ask a lot of people, I think most will say, 'Okay, Serena will win'. "But this is the challenge I can take. I go out there, I don't have nothing to lose. I don't have so much pressure like she has."
Kerber is the first German in the Australian final since Anke Huber in 1996, with Graf the last winner from that country in 1994. - AFP.
- World ranking: 1
- Age: 34
- Height: 1.75m
- Weight: 70kg
- Plays: Right-handed
- Turned pro: 1995
- Career titles: 69
- Grand Slam singles titles: 21
- Best Australian Open result: Champion (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015)
- World ranking: 6
- Age: 28
- Height: 1.73m
- Weight: 68kg
- Plays: Left-handed
- Turned pro: 2003
- Career singles titles: 7
- Grand Slam singles titles: 0
- Best Australian Open result: Last 16 (2013, 2014)
SERENA WILLIAMS 5-1 ANGELIQUE KERBER
- Stanford 2014 (final): Williams won 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.
- Miami 2014 (quarter-final): Williams won 6-2, 6-2.
- WTA Championships 2013 (group stage): Williams won 6-3, 6-1.
- WTA Championships 2012 (group stage): Williams won 6-4, 6-1.
- Cincinnati 2012 (quarter-final): Kerber won 6-4, 6-4.
- US Open 2007 (1st round): Williams won 6-3, 7-5.