BIG UPSET! Serena Williams Crashes Out of Italian Open 2021’s Second Round

Published 05/12/2021, 11:51 AM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Serena Williams of the United States reacts during her Women’s Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)


Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Serena Williams, who is playing in her first match since the semi-finals of the Australian Open, has crashed out of her opening round in Rome against Nadia Podoroska 6-7(6),5-7. This contest also marked Serena Williams’ 1000th match on the WTA Tour.

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The American was sloppy throughout the match as she failed to capitalize on the few opportunities presented to her by Podoroska. Even though her baseline strokes had the same impact, it was not enough to drive the Argentinian away from the match.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021, Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her quarter-final match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
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Serena Williams lost a closely fought first set

It was a tightly contested first set as both players exchanged a few breakpoints and took the set to a tie-breaker. While Serena was dominant from the baseline, she failed to reciprocate the same at the net. A few volleys she tried didn’t go her way as Podoroska managed to take the first set by a narrow margin, 7-6(6).

Even in the second set, the American struggled to create any impact and allowed Podoroska to have a quick 5-2 in the set. However, the legendary player used all her experience when it mattered the most. Serving for the match at 5-3, Podoroska felt the nerves and Serena bombarded the Argentinian with massive returns on the second serve.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 03: Serena Williams of the United States is seen during the set break in her match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria during day four of the WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park on February 03, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

The American broke Podoroska and won her service game with ease. The match was leveled at 5-5. Just when Serena was expected to clinch the second set, Podoroska held her head straight and won the next service game.

Williams’ sloppy serve and unforced errors cost her the match

The pressure was right back at the American. Serving to stay in the match, the American didn’t manage to get quick first serves in, and lost the match. Serena managed to make only 48% of her first-serves in. For a big-server like her, it’s a surprising stat, and it was one of the main reasons for her defeat today.

Also, the American made 33 unforced errors in the match compared to just 18 from Podoroska. While Serena managed to hit more winners than the Argentinian, it didn’t serve the cause as too many errors from the American’s racquet gave away the match.

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Tennis – Yarra Valley Classic – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 3, 2021, Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates after winning her match against Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Even though Serena wasn’t expected to win the Italian Open in her first match since February this year, she was expecting to have a deeper run at the tournament to improve her chances of winning the elusive 24th grand slam title at the French Open.

But credit to Podoroska for silencing the storm and not yielding to Serena when the latter won three service games in a row in the second set. Both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka lost their opening round matches in Rome today. It will be a mammoth task for these two players to create an impact at Roland Garros this year.

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Sagar Ashtakoula

228 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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