Tim Henman says the challenge Serena Williams faces to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title is a mental one.
The 39-year-old is aiming to equal Margaret Court’s long-standing majors haul, but has lost her last four Grand Slam finals raising questions over whether Williams will ever be able to get over the line.
Williams will take on second seed Simona Halep in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday in what will be a true test of her title credentials. Henman, however, believes there is no issue with the American’s fitness levels.
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“I think Serena has definitely got the physical capabilities of winning another Grand Slam,” the former British number one explained in the Eurosport Cube.
“For me, it’s going to be more of a mental challenge than a technical or physical challenge. Having lost in her last four Grand Slam finals she realises there is that psychological edge to try and get over.
“And as the tournament progresses her opponents are not going to get any easier. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether she can keep going.”
'Serena has the psychological edge – whoever she plays' – Henman on Williams v Halep
Halep secured her passage to the quarter finals with a battling performance against Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, with the Romanian harbouring ambitions of her own to add to her tally of two Grand Slam titles.
“I think Halep is one of the toughest tests for Serena,” said Henman. “Halep has Grand Slam titles under her belt, she’s an extremely experienced player and her game style can cause Serena problems because she’s such a good athlete. Halep is always asking her opponent to hit one more shot.
“Having said that, with the courts a little bit quicker Serena has the firepower with the serve and from the back of the court to really hit through Halep.
“It will be a real conundrum of whether Halep can force Serena to hit more balls and get more unforced errors or whether Serena can keep that consistency up and hit Halep off the court.”
However, Henman sees another player as the frontrunner for the women’s singles title at the 2021 Australian Open, picking Ash Barty as his favourite.
“She’s number one in the world, she’s in good form, she won a title the week before in Melbourne. I love her attitude,” he said.
“She really embraces the process of playing at her home Grand Slam and I think it would be an unbelievable story if she could come out on top.”
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