Near Misses: A Case Of Svetlana's "What If"

Rohini IyerSenior Writer INovember 15, 2009

The question of 'what if' is something that runs like a loop in one's mind especially if things do not pan out the way one wants them to; it plagues and demoralises the thought process, leaves one regretting and despairing over what could have been but yet couldn't be...

The Australian Open 2009 Quarter Final match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams is one such 'what if' situation; where the Russian could have defeated the younger Williams, she ended up giving the match away on a platter, thus making it a perfect 'Near Miss' scenario.

From being in a position to serve out the match, to finally leave the arena as the vanquished isn't exactly a situation that any player envisages for oneself and Svetlana wasn't an exception to the feeling that day.

And though she blamed everything and everyone under the Sun [or rather covered by the Sun] that day for her loss, it would have to be said that ultimately she and she alone was responsible for her loss that day.

In a match that oscillated right from the word GO, where serves were broken back and forth as though they were powerful baseline rallies; Svetlana did good—about time—by managing to capture the first set after a marathon of 48 minutes. her efforts [in pocketing the set] were laudable indeed considering that the Melbourne heat was actually roasting both the players at a temperature of 43 degree centigrade.

And while, Svetlana appeared to be a bit less intimidated and daunted by the heat, Serena, on the other hand was flailing helplessly. Twice in the first set she had managed to break the russian's serve, before finally succumbing and surrendering it for the third and the final time to hand over the set to her opponent. Blame it on the heat, though!

In the second set, Svetlana fared a bit better and Serena struggled a bit more; the exchange of break-and-be-broken merchandise wasn't repeated...till...Svetlana was serving for the match at 5-4 and till the officials decided to overlook the concept of solar energy.

And as finally the roof was brought out and all the matches in the outside courts were suspended, all hell broke lose in the Rod Laver arena. with the roof closed and her confidence suddenly making a dramatic comeback—Serena pocketed the set, while    Svetlana was just confined to serving that game or rather 'serving for the match' , as it needs to be called!

It is as this stage that the most boring of matches gets interesting and this one was just warming up to the theory, as after breaking back Svetlana's serve, Serena proceeded to lead—for the first time—in the match. Svetlana had to hold on, not only to her service game but also to her pride as well.

But somehow she never managed to recover from that horrendous break of serve; she gave away her second game of the set [consecutive at that] allowing the American to take the match into a deciding third set.

There was, however, no deciding factor necessary in the third set, as Kuznetsova was completely unable to wage the third set war; it was clinical to the point of being humiliating, there were definitely no holes barred and every lose chance covered up before it could prove detrimental.

Finally, after 29 minutes of play, Serena finally ended Kuznetsova's 'roof woes' as she wrapped up the set and thereby the match with a score of 6-1; her yells and fist pumps testimony to her regrouping in a match that could have very well been the curtains in her 10th slam conquest.

Reverting back to Kuznetsova, while she was no doubt disappointed with her lacklustre presentation, her statements regarding the closing of the roof were somehow ludicrous and though, she might have meant about her concentration getting distracted, especially because she was indeed serving for the match when the roof was brought out or she might have just meant that the heat wasn't a ruling factor, there would be no denying that she did lose the match in the end, albeit painfully.

Thus, while Svetlana would have pondered about the 'what ifs' , her match has provided me with an article for an ongoing and catchy series...the only question being, "What if Svetlana hadn't lost the match?"