Tim Benz: How Alison Riske nearly seized opportunity at Wimbledon
There was no raising of the Jolly Roger at Wimbledon’s Centre Court. No one waved a Terrible Towel. And “Renegade” was never played.
London ain’t ready for that much Pittsburgh n’at, anyway.
Peters Township product Alison Riske gave it her best against Serena Williams during the Wimbledon quarterfinals. But the seven-time Wimbledon champion was too much to handle on Tuesday, beating Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
The former WPIAL standout had her chances, but Williams — seeking a 24th major crown — had the answers.
Here’s a “Take 5” on how Serena swatted away any chance of Primanti Bros. at “Breakfast at Wimbledon” over championship weekend.
1. The serve: It was a significant advantage for Williams. She had 19 aces to Riske’s one. The most emphatic was a hammer on the last point to close out the match in style. Williams committed two double faults along the way.
2. Riske’s returns: Once Riske got the ball in play, she was highly competitive. In fact, 27 games into the match, as the ESPN crew pointed out, Williams had 17 aces and just 15 other points off her first serve.
So once Riske was able to start a rally, she did an exemplary job hanging with one of the best to ever play the game.
3. The turning point: Riske pulled even at 3-3 in the third set. At that moment, it was anyone’s match.
Williams took a long moment to gather herself, wrapped her hair upright, looked down at the grass and began her service game.
On the first point, she won a 10-stroke baseline exchange against Riske, seemingly hitting every shot with more and more force. The exchange appeared to energize Williams, and she ramped it up from there.
Williams made Riske chase with more big forehands and put her away at the net on the next point, then smoked an ace and a service winner to grab the game at love.
4. The backbreaking game: Williams carried that momentum into the eighth game of the third set. It was the highlight of the match.
It lasted 11 points and almost eight minutes. Riske fought off three break points but wilted at the end of the game.
By the middle of the 10-stroke duel on the 10th point of the frame, Riske had Williams set up with an overhead to put the rally to bed. But she didn’t get enough steam on the slam. Williams kept the ball alive and eventually won the point.
Perhaps rattled, Riske then double-faulted to give Williams the game. Williams followed by serving out the match to end the third set.
5. Early opportunity lost: Riske broke Williams’ serve twice in the first set, but still couldn’t win it. Riske went up 2-1 on a break, and again 4-3. But Williams answered, and closed the set strong, winning the last three games and taking it 6-4.