You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
And so she did. Oh yes, she did.
It was a match that, quite frankly, no one gave her a chance to win. That's not to say people said she couldn't be "the winner", but the conventional wisdom was that this was Sam's match to lose. The match was in Sam's hands and if Franny happened to be standing on the other side of the net on a day when Sam left her game, brain, or heart in the locker room, then of course, Fran would be the winner. But being the "winner" and "winning" the match are two different things. Of course, predictions are based on assumptions. Generally, if they're done right, they are based on both empirical data and non-empirical data. But they're still based on something "concrete". Stats, style of play, form, momentum, etc.
So leave it to the ballsy Italian and her team to completely pull the rug out from under everyone by unveiling a hyper-aggressive game plan and heretofore never-before-seen highly effective serve to "out offense" Sam. I'm not sure anyone saw this coming. I had assumed going into the match that Fran would try and use her different spins and angles to jerk Sam around and outrally her. But it was the serve -- THAT SERVE -- that shocked the shit out of me.
Now, to be clear, anyone can come up with an effective game plan. But it takes a wily, seasoned veteran who understood the stakes and landscape of this match -- she was going up against a big hitter who could control points in, what is very probably, her one and only shot at a Slam title -- to fully commit and embrace this game plan. Franny was being asked to play, what was for her, Red Line tennis -- pedal to the metal, serve huge, hit big, and crash the net. Fail to execute and this could have been a 40 minute final. Succeed and it's your moment. And succeed she did.
This was two sets of awesome tennis. Both players came out of the gate holding serve and sticking with their game plan. And Sam played well. Fran was simply better. She had the better game plan, she committed to it and executed it to perfection, and Sam just couldn't make the adjustments she needed to. Two mental lapses might keep her up at night: The double fault to give Fran the 1st set break and the crap game she threw in at 4-2 in the second set that gifted Fran the break back to get back on serve. That was particularly gut-wrenching. I really wanted to see what would happen in a third set.
So thanks, ladies.
Two great stories, two amazing athletes, and two likeable, classy individuals who competed hard and played the best women's final in years. WTA fans couldn't have asked for anything more.
Thanks, Sam, for giving us a week of tennis that we'll always remember.
And thanks, Franny, for giving us a day that we won't soon forget.