For a while there it felt like the stars had aligned for a win that could have shifted the tectonic plates of the tennis world. We were coming up on Chinese New Year, a Mulan Chinese acrobatic show was coming to Melbourne next week, and Nails had just blitzed Kim 6-3 in 38 minutes to take the first set.
LIke, HOOOOOOOOOOLY SMOOOOOOOOOOOKES.
But we knew something was up with this match when Nails won the toss and elected to receive. Yup, we were going to get a classic WTA break-fest. As the second set started no one could hold serve. Nails was finally able to hold at 3-2. I honestly that that hold would be enough to steady her and get her to the finish line.
I'm an idiot.
Kim would even it up at 3-3 with a hold of her own and Nails would lose the next three games to lose the set 6-3. From there, the third set seemed in the can. Kim reeled off the first seven points behind an intelligent mix of shots and finally closed it out 6-3. I think it was really Kim's ability to go from a power game to adding slices and spins that got her this match. Well, that and her experience.
It was nice to see how much this title meant to Kim. It's her first Slam off U.S. soil, in a country that she loves and loves her back, though for maybe not always the same reasons. I mean, do you really want to be called "Aussie Kim" because you used to fuck an Aussie dude who's kind of a prick? Methinks not. I think she felt a bit that way, too. "Now I feel like you guys can finally call me Aussie Kim because I won the title."
But this was Nails' tournament. She was the star, she was the breakthrough, and it was so nice to see her smiling and beaming with positivity after the match. "I think I play great tennis. I mean, she play better than me. After the match, back to the locker room, I make joke, tennis should only play one set (laughter). Yeah, I mean, I still happy what I do today, yeah. So I proud for myself."
She should be. She really played great against Kim and forced her to raise her level. She didn't choke, she didn't wilt under the moment, and she didn't get all headcasey. She just got beat by Kim.
The match, and this fortnight, have been a solid advertisement for the WTA. I've loved every minute of it.