Coach Patrick Mouratoglou insists Serena Williams did not lose the Australian Open final due to nerves.
Williams suffered her second successive defeat in a major, having lost in the semi-finals of the US Open last September to Roberta Vinci, where she was gunning for the calendar-year Grand Slam as well as Graf’s historic mark of 22 major tournament wins.
In the opening set against Angelique Kerber, Williams committed 23 unforced errors and struggled with her serve and her movement.
Mouratoglou, who has been working with Williams since mid-2012 and has helped her win eight of the 15 grand slams she’s entered since, said the final came down to an underdog playing with nothing to lose, against a favourite who struggled to hit her peak.
“I’ve seen Serena much tighter in some other grand slam finals. She’s human, and when you’re a big favourite in a grand slam final you are a bit nervous, if you’re not, you’re not normal,” said the Frenchman. “We just have to congratulate Angelique. She was able to play the perfect match and that was the only way to beat Serena.
“I think she was a bit tight, but I think everybody is when you play a grand slam final and when you have a lot to lose compared to a player who plays against someone who is supposedly unbeatable.”
Mouratoglou defended Williams’ strategy of frequently coming to the net, a tactic that was only successful on 15 of 32 approaches.
“There are so many high balls, so many balls floating in the air that she can finish,” he added. “It makes complete sense to come to the net.”
Looking ahead, Mouratoglou said there were still lots of improvements Williams can make.
“There is still work and it’s good because when she’ll be able to do that, she’ll be even more difficult,” he said. “She can still improve a lot. If she couldn’t, she’d stop.”
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