All eyes will be on the return of Serena Williams and her return earlier in the night but the return of Victoria Azarenka will be just as much of a boost to the women’s game. The Belarussian won the event in 2016 mid-pregnancy but her career as been put on hold since then, first due to the birth of son Leo and then her well documented issues regarding custody of him. Azarenka plays Heather Watson in her first round match.
Check out the Azarenka vs Watson Head to Head
There is very little to go by on what Azarenka’s level will be or what level of fitness she will be at. Several comebacks have been postponed and wildcards handed back during a stop-start 12 months. She managed to compete at Wimbledon last year, making the fourth round, but has not took part in competitive play since. While having time to commit to training during her absence, it may have been hard to stay committed when there was no clear return date for a long time.
Watson is a player that Azarenka has dealt with well in the past with a 5-0 record over the Brit, including last year at Wimbledon on her opponent’s home soil. She was a winner in the Acapulco doubles tournament but her recent form in the singles leaves a lot to be desired. She is on a 4 match losing streak with losses to Elise Mertens, Beatriz Haddad Maia, Roberta Vinci and Yulia Putintseva.
Prediction – Victoria Azarenka in three sets