Top seed Serena Williams is scheduled to take part in the final night session match on the opening day at Rod Laver Arena, where she will meet Australia’s Ashleigh Barty for a spot in the second round of the tournament. This marks the first time that these two athletes will meet on the professional tour.
The World no. 1 had a perfect start to her 2014 season, as she took part in the Brisbane International, eventually winning the title with victories over Andrea Petkovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka – all without dropping a single set. The wins over two of the top four players in the world will certainly add to her confidence heading into the Australian Open, one of two titles she was unable to secure last season.
Williams won the Brisbane title last year as well, but was far from top form in the Aussie Open, where she lost to fellow American Sloane Stephens in the quarter-final stage of the event. She will be looking improve on her shaky performance last year with a strong showing this year in Melbourne – ultimately winning her sixth Australian Open title.
The American made it clear that Barty’s lack of experience would not change the way she approached the match.
“Obviously they’ll want Ashleigh to win, her to do well.” Williams said. “Under any other circumstances, I’d probably be rooting for her, as well. I’ll just have to be ready for that.I just try to play the best I can, whether I’m playing someone super young or whether I’m playing someone a little older that has more experience.
“For me, I try not to do too much to change my game. I just try to hang in there and play the best I can,” she added.
World No.153, Ashleigh Barty, is excited about her opportunity to possibly earn one of the biggest upsets in women’s tennis history. The 17-year-old is beginning her first full year on the WTA tour and has not played since injuring an adductor muscle last month. While many would have considered drawing Serena in the opening round horrendous luck, she is thrilled about the opportunity to play the world no. 1 at Rod Laver Arena.
‘‘You have to go out believing you can win the match, otherwise there’s no point walking out on the court, really,’’ Barty said. ‘‘I’m going to do all that I can to try to win it.’’
This is the first professional meeting between the two athletes and will likely be an entertaining affair. Williams will almost surely be looking to overpower the young Australian early on, ultimatley taking the match in straight sets.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets