Serena Williams looks to continue her charge for a 24th slam on Wednesday, taking on qualifier Kurumi Nara for a spot in round three. The 10th seed, who has struggled to get her season going following some knee trouble, may have gotten a bit of draw luck in the next round with the rising Bianca Andreescu withdrawing from the tournament in round two.
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Nara, a one time top 40 player, has plummeted down the rankings in the past year. She was inside the top 100 heading into last year’s grass season but a 10 match losing streak followed there and she has found it difficult since. Spending much of this year at ITF level instead, she found herself outside the top 200 before the tournament but qualification and a round one win over Dalila Jakupovic sees her easily inside the top 180 now.
Serena went the scenic route in her first round win over Vitalia Diatchenko, coming from a set down to beat the Russian. It wasn’t all that competitive after she lost the first set, dropping just 1 game more in the 2-6 6-1 6-0 victory to advance. It will have been more about the match sharpness for her and regaining the confidence with regards to her knee. “Physically I felt pretty good,” she explained after the match. “Yeah, I’ve had a lot of injuries. I’m usually not an injured player, but I sprained my ankle in Australia and everything went downhill from there.” she said. “I think I’m finally on the mend, but yeah, it’s been a really interesting year for me thus far.”
With her grinding style, it will be a tough day on court for Nara unless Serena throws in a complete disaster of a match. Nara has made the second round at the French Open on four occasions previously but has failed to win the following match in any of them.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets