Serena Williams will play a woman 19 years younger than her in her bid to make the fourth round at the Australian Open. She plays Dayana Yastremska, the pick of the next generation of young Ukranians hoping to emulate or better Elina Svitolina’s achievements on tour. Should Serena win, it will set up a clash with either World No.1 Simona Halep or her sister Venus.
Yastremska is at a career best ranking coming into the tournament and will better that after winning a match at a slam for the first time, or two in this instance. She cruised past a former slam champion in Sam Stosur in the first round before beating Carla Suarez Navarro in round two. It was an impressive performance by the youngster, who could have been forgiven for succumbing to the veteran savvy of her opponent heading into the deciding set.
Serena has spent less than 2 hours on court in her opening two matches, something that will be of her huge benefit to anyone but in particular a player at her age. “I think what the key is just going out there and playing really well, just doing the best that you can do.” she said after the win. It wasn’t quite the dominant serving expected from her in the second round win over Eugenie Bouchard but it mattered little when she took apart the Canadian’s serve for a total six breaks from eight return games.
You’d expect supreme confidence from someone with Serena’s achievements but that has not always been the case as she admits. “I’m not always confident. I just do the work. I go out there and I play the best I can. I work hard and see what happens. That’s it. Today is the same. I feel like I’ve done a lot of the work. We’ll see what happens.” she said. She remains the favourite to win the tournament but things are going to ramp up in the next few rounds and she will need to be ready for it.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets