Former world No. 1 Venus Williams is refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to embark on another fruitful season on the WTA tour. Following her remarkable return to form in 2014, the American will be keen to start the season right with some strong showings at the ASB Classic in Auckland, starting with Jana Cepelova on Monday afternoon. This marks just the second time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Williams leading the head to head series 1-0.
After taking part in a great year on the tour, one that included titles and even a runner-up finish in the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Venus Williams is in the Top 20 on the WTA tour for the first time since 2010. However, she has not contested a match on court since an illness forced her out of the China Open three months ago. Given that she is a runner-up last year at this event, she will be looking duplicate her efforts this season.
“Last year was so amazing and I got so close – just ran into a better player. It was the first of four finals for me last year. I was just reflecting on that as I came through security, I was like ‘last year wasn’t bad’. I’d love to make it a lot better.
“I’m happy to be back here, I definitely feel the energy and I’ve been hitting well and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
World No. 57 Jana Cepelova reached the final in Charleston last year and completed semi-final showings in Osprey, Bastad and Suzhou. She also managed to reach the second round of the US Open for the first time in her career.
This marks just the second time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Williams leading the series 1-0. The American defeated her Slovakian adversary at the Cincinnati Masters event back in 2013. While it is always difficult to gauge a player’s preparedness in their first match of the season, particularly the inconsistent Venus, it is likely that she will edge Cepelova in a close straight sets battle.
Prediction: Venus Williams in Straight Sets