Two victories into the New Year and former world No. 1 Venus Williams is already through to the quarter-final round of the ASB Classic in Auckland. The American will now contest a match against Elena Vesnina to secure a spot in the final four of the tournament. This marks the fourth time that the two competitors will step across the net from each other on the professional circuit, with Vesnina leading the series 2-1.
Venus only needed 65 minutes to close out her second round match-up against Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-4, 6-1 on Tuesday night. Williams struck two aces, won 74% of her first service points and managed six breaks of serve to secure the victory. The second half of the match particularly smooth for Venus, as she reeled off nine of the last ten games to end the match in emphatic fashion.
“Today was a different match than yesterday – not as straightforward,” Williams, who dropped just one game in her first round match, said. “I was playing an opponent with more experience. She’s very tenacious despite her size. She knows how to construct points, she plays great defense and can go on the offense as well, so it’s a good match to have under my belt this early on in the season.”
“I always had goals, but in life things never really work out the way you think they’re going to,” Williams said. “It’s been that way my whole career – you say, ‘I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that,’ but sometimes you fall a little bit short, and sometimes you do more than you ever thought you could. So my goal for this year is to try and perform the way I know that I can on the court.”
Elena Vesnina also had a relatively simple match on court, as she routed Ana Konjuh in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-final round of her first tournament of the season.
Of their three previous encounters on the tour, Vesnina actually leads the head-to-o-head series 2-1. She won the first two meetings between the competitors, including one at the Wimbledon Championships, but it was Venus who won the most recent match last season. Considering her vast improvements over the past year, the American should be the competitor favoured for a spot in the semi-final.
Prediction: Venus Williams in Three Sets