After needing Middle Sunday to get back on schedule with her tournament and her attempt at No. 22, Serena Williams is safely into the fourth round and will play two time slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarter finals.
Serena had been troubled in her second round match against Christina McHale, needing to go three sets to move into the third round. There were no such concerns for her in round three against Annika Beck where she needed just 51 minutes to seal victory. After going down a break for 1-2*, the defending champion won 11 of the next 12 games for a 6-3 6-0 win. She lost just four points on her first serve and hit seven aces in the routine win.
Meanwhile, it was anything but routine for Kuznetsova who came out on top in a thriller with Sloane Stephens on Court No.1. Down 5-2 30-15*, the Russian won six of the next seven games to close it out 8-6 in the third after just over two and a half hours. It was a slog for the Russian who had already needed three sets to beat British wildcard Tara Moore in the previous round. She will have been disappointed to have not closed it out in straight sets, having served for the first before losing a tiebreak.
While 9-3 up in the head to head, Serena has been troubled on a number of occasions by Kuznetsova – most notably in their epic French Open encounters. The first of those was in the 2009 quarter finals when Kuznetsova won 7-5 in the third on her way to the title. More recently, Kuznetsova has a victory this year in Miami 6-7 6-1 6-2 although their last meeting was very one sided with Serena dropping just two games in Rome in May.
They are yet to play on a grass court though and Serena should have the advantage, especially if she plays as well as she did against Beck. Of course, Kuznetsova is at a much higher level but will need to up her serving if she is to progress. Winning just 56% of points on her first serve, as she did against Stephens, will just not do or the Russian.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets