Pushed to the limit for the first set and a half, Serena Williams found her higher gear and withstood a brilliant effort from 17 year-old American Catherine McNally and dispatched the future star, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, in front of a boisterous Wednesday night crowd under the roof in Arthur Ashe stadium.
McNally kept Serena off balance from the start of the match, splendidly changing the speeds and locations of her serves. Further, McNally blended powerful forehand drives with superbly timed backhand slices to great effect, forcing Serena into an unusually high number of unforced errors in the first set. Both players had difficulty making inroads on their opponent’s serve, as neither player reached break point until the 11th game when McNally capitalized on her one—and only—break opportunity to grab the lead. When McNally served for the set, nerves seemed to be coming into play as she fell behind 0-40 but she displayed tremendous guile and somehow managed to reel off five consecutive points to win the set.
As the second set commenced, Serena had nearly double the unforced errors as she did winners. Yet as she so often does, Serena regained her consistency and, most importantly, her serve remained impenetrable as McNally never came close to breaking Serena the rest of the match.