London: Serena Williams may have preferred the devil she knows in the Wimbledon singles final, but sister Venus is out, and the defending champion knows only her best will be good enough against the wily Vera Zvonareva.
With Venus gone in the quarter-finals, and with her the prospects of a fifth all-Williams final, Serena never looked in danger of dashing through the draw and booking her sixth appearance in the showpiece match on Saturday.
“I feel like I would almost rather play her (Venus) because at least I know for certain one of us is gonna win something and take something home. But now it’s a 50/50 chance,” Williams told reporters.
But for all her yearning for a Williams victory, Serena was well aware of the challenge presented by the Russian, at 21 the second-lowest ranked player to appear in the women’s final at the All England Club.
“I don’t think she does anything terrible. I think that’s the best way to describe her game, she does everything so good,” 12-times grand slam winner Williams said.
“It’s tough playing a player like that who doesn’t really have one weakness and everything pretty much is a strength from her forehand to her backhand to her movement.”
In a Wimbledon full of surprises, with men’s champion Roger Federer also departing early, world number one Williams has at least stuck to the script, powering her way through the draw without dropping a set and battering down a record 80 aces in the process.
However, Zvonareva has already got the better of her once this tournament with a victory over the Williams sisters on her way to the women’s double final with partner Elena Vesnina.
“We obviously wanted to win the doubles but it wasn’t the end-of-the-world kind of thing. It was like, ‘we lost but what are we going to do about it?’” Williams said.
She has a 5-1 career record against Zvonareva and is the overwhelming favourite to win her fourth title but that was one statistic the 25-year-old economics student from Moscow was prepared to ignore.
“I know if I play my best tennis I can beat anyone on the other side of the net. That’s what I’m going try to do on Saturday. I never look at any odds or comparisons. It’s not important to me,” Zvonareva, appearing in her first grand slam final, said.
The Russian pinpointed Williams’s mammoth serve as the main obstacle to overcome.
“It’s a very big advantage, especially here on the grass. But I think if you can find the timing, you can return it.
“But there will be moments where she doesn’t make a first serve. I haven’t seen anyone make a hundred percent of first serves. So you will just have to take your chances then,” the 2009 Australian Open semi-finalist said.
“I remember I played a very good match against her in Cincinnati one year (2006) and I was able to beat her. It was a very, very tough one but I think I was able to play the right way against her.
“So I will just have to try to do it again.”