Caty McNally wants to be ‘just like Roger Federer’ after giving Serena Williams a scare

Caty McNally is only 17 but almost sprung a surprise on Serena Williams (Picture: Getty)

Caty McNally almost downed the darling of the US Open last night but Serena Williams fought back to ensure she would not be the latest seed to suffer a shock exit in the first week.

McNally took a tight first set against the 23-time Grand Slam champion, who is looking to win her first title in New York for five years, and went toe-to-toe with her in the second.

However, she was not able to break her serve again and after levelling the match, Williams cruised through the final set to emerge a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 winner.

But McNally was pleased to have pushed the six-time US Open champion so hard and revealed that Roger Federer and his game style in particular had been a big inspiration to the way she approaches the game.

‘The big things are the way he carries himself on court. I think that’s huge. I try to do the exact same thing,’ McNally said.

‘Also the way he plays, he serves and volleys, looks to get to the net. He takes a lot of time away from his opponents.

‘I really like the way he plays, mixes in the slice, the dropshot, volleys really well.

‘There’s so many things I like from his game. Hopefully I can keep working on those and become just like him.’

Roger Federer’s comfort at the net has been an inspiration to so many – including Caty McNally (Picture: Getty)

McNally is only 17 – Williams won her first US Open title two years before she was born – and secured her first ever Grand Slam victory earlier this week when she beat Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets.

The result will put her on the verge of a place in the top 100 in the world for the very first time, one of a number of teenagers who have enjoyed prominent success in the women’s game this year: Bianca Andreescu (19) is being tipped as a dark horse for the title this fortnight and Coco Gauff (15) reached the fourth round of Wimbledon.

A common theme among them is their comfort coming forward on the court, something McNally attributes in part to Federer and in part to the people she has worked with more directly.

Caty McNally did make Serena Williams work for her place in the third round (Picture: Getty)

‘For me I think it’s just who I’ve been brought up around, my mom [Lynn Nabors-McNally, a former top-250 doubles player who coaches her daughter], Kevin O’Neill, they both play the exact same way,’ McNally added.

‘They always encourage me to do that. I think it’s the right way to play, especially taking time away from your opponent. It’s huge.

‘Not everyone is just going to stay at the baseline and smack balls. That’s not who I am. That’s not who I’m trying to be.

‘I’m trying to get into the net, end points at the net, take away time from my opponents. Just going to keep working on that.’


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