Nothing on a tennis court invigorates Serena Williams quite like a Grand Slam. That is why it should come as no surprise to see her in much better physical and mental condition at the Australian Open than she was at the Hopman Cup earlier this month. In that team competition in Perth, inflammation in her left knee sidelined the world No. 1 from her opening singles match and she retired from her next one before withdrawing from the remainder of the tournament.
Williams assured it was no big deal and it certainly hasn’t been in Melbourne. Moving fine through two matches, the top seed has taken out Camila Giorgi and Su-Wei Hsieh in straight sets. Williams is aiming for a second straight winner’s trophy at this event and a seventh time overall. It would be her 22nd Grand Slam triumph.
Up next for the American is a first-ever meeting with Daria Kasatkina on Friday. Kasatkina is an 18-year-old Russian who is already up to No. 69 in the rankings. She punched her ticket into the Australian Open third round by beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Ana Konjuh in easy straight sets. Kasatkina recently advanced to the Auckland third round by upsetting none other than Venus Williams. That means the younger Williams sister will be getting a scouting report from big sis.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be easy,” Williams commented. “Any time someone is beating Venus, they are more than likely playing really good. So I definitely will be ready for that. I obviously will ask Venus what she thought of the match, and I’m sure [coach Patrick Mouratoglou] will know everything about her match and stuff. He’s really good at studying.”
Even without any studying, Williams would be far too powerful for her opponent. Kasatkina is one to watch in the near future, but the discrepancy in experience and firepower will be way too much for the underdog to overcome.
Prediction – Williams in straight sets