Power and ego versus guile and fitness


MELBOURNE, Australia, AFP

A showdown between power and ego versus guile, fitness and concentration is on the cards as the Williams sisters take on Martina Hingis and Amanda Coetzer in quarter-final showdowns on Wednesday. Serena Williams will try to outhit Hingis while sister Venus will have to step up a gear against the consistent South African. Grand Slams eluded Hingis, the top seed, last year and she is anxious to prove herself again at the majors and strike a blow for technique over brute force. “I’ve worked on my physical shape and also the groundstrokes,” she said. She is also trying to come to the net more. “The technique has always been the biggest part of my game. I think I improved in some of those things.” Serena said she had noticed the extra efforts the world No.1 had put in but said everybody was doing it. “Everybody is trying to improve their game,” she said. “Who’s not trying to improve and get more power?” Hingis, a three-time Melbourne champion, beat Serena in Sydney two weeks ago and last year when Williams was forced to retire in the third set of their Canadian Open final. But Williams took the previous three meetings.

The Swiss miss though is is confident she can go all the way. “I think if I’m playing well, I have the chance to beat anybody out there,” she said. “You know beating them all at one event (the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport), it’s quite difficult … but nothing’s impossible.”

The tall, muscular Venus will face the tiny, compact Coetzer. Venus, who came into the tournament with no competitive singles match practice, has dropped three sets en-route to the last eight and knows she must cut out the errors if she’s to win her third Grand Slam. “I’d better walk out with a better game plan next time,” she admitted after winning her fourth round clash. But she insisted there was more to her game than power. “I think maybe just moving in after the short balls, just playing consistently, just playing every point, not just looking forward to the next game or the next set, but every point,” she said. “She has a lot of experience. She’s looking forward to capitalising on this opportunity and I can’t take anything for granted.” On paper she should beat Coetzer, having a 6-1 career record in her favour. But their form in Melbourne gives Coetzer the edge. She has ambled through the draw in straight sets, losing just 21 games. The 29-year-old, who stands just 1.58m (5’2”) tall to Venus’s 185 centimetres (6’1”), said she felt she too could still move up a level. “I think I have still got some left. It will be interesting to see what I really have,” she said, but acknowledged that getting past Williams posed an enormous challenge. “Sometimes you just don’t have a say in some of the points. She’s so powerful. It will be a big challenge to see if I can get into the points and stay in them. “It won’t be easy but so many of the girls are hitting the ball hard now that you start to get used to it.