Montreal - They say tennis is a sport of nerves, where the psychological aspect becomes even more important than the skill of hitting a ball. If you ever doubted that definition you should take a look at the highlights of the match won by Serena Williams against Lucie Safarova on Thursday at the 2014 Rogers Cup.
The World No.1 against the Wimbledon semi-finalist, something to look forward to today in Montreal. Serena who struggled with a virus - or God knows with what - at Wimbledon, resurges from her own ashes again when back at home in the United States, where she wins her 61st WTA title in Stanford.
The favorite for the final win in Montreal suddenly is her again, and Lucie knows it. Playing against the World No.1 can be challenging, or it can be extremely frustrating. If Serena is in a good day there is no chance for her opponent to even see the ball - ask Samantha Stosur if she agrees on that - taking the term aggressive into another level and dimension, as much as the American is able to take the time away from her opposition.
If Serena is not in a good day, she can give a chance away, and that's when players have to become champions, to take that chance and get the win. It's no surprise that some of those who managed to do that when playing as underdogs have then gone on to achieve something great in the sport.
You can think of Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004, or at Victoria Azarenka in Miami in 2009, but Vika was already somebody in the women's game. To make the best out of a Williams bad day, aggressiveness has to be the word you are repeating in your mind all along.
Aggressiveness and confidence. Try your best shot, aim for the line, if it doesn't go in, you know you have tried. Clearly Lucie Safarova hasn't heard any of that. Despite going as far as the last 4 of the greatest tournament in tennis, facing Serena on court the Czech still feels very intimidated.
But the confidence she has built on herself after her British campaign is there. So is the lefty forehand that can cause major trouble to all the girls on tour, Williams included. So Lucie fires winners, moves the World No.1 around the court, she makes her unhappy.
Serena pulls her hair back, which is the signal to say she is ready for the battle, but is also a sign that means that she is being challenged. The American wins the first set, 7-5, but she is in no happy place yet.
The second set is a battle of nerves and serves. Serena holds in the 9th game to put pressure on Safarova, who down 4-5 has to serve to stay in the match. When changing sides, Serena sits on her bench on a mop, a suffering stare of disappointment.
And that's when the fact happens. Two double faults, a forehand in the net, a forehand miles too long. 1 hour and 30 minutes of battle and sweat thrown out of the window in thirty seconds by the Czech. The match is over, the nerves have had the best over Lucie.
Serena doesn't waste too much time cheering herself up, she knows she needed her opponent's help to stick the match under her belt. The final score is 7-5 6-4 in 1 hour and a half. Serena is in the quarter-finals.
Lucie can punch her reflection in the mirror in frustration. Tennis is a sport of nerves. .