A semi-finalist last year, Venus Williams will still have a strong belief she can match that or better at this year’s Wimbledon. With Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova out of the draw and her sister not competing, Venus is up there with a shot and as a multi-time champion she has proven grass pedigree. She plays the heavy-hitting Naomi Osaka in round three.
Osaka beat a very handy grass courter in Barbara Strycova to make it to round three, bouncing back after a disastrous 0-6 second set. It wasn’t the cleanest of matches from her as she hit 8 more unforced errors than winners – something that generally would lead to bad things for an aggressive player like herself. She recovered for the third and the all important break came in game 7 with Osaka holding on to close out the match from there. “(In the second set) I got a little bit nervous. I felt, like, my nerves were rising.” she said post-match. “I started panicking. And then the third set I just really tried to focus.”
Venus came through a tough outing against Qiang Wang for the second slam running, needing three sets this time after winning a tight one in straights in Paris. The Chinese player was as close as 7 points from victory at 4-4 in the second before winning just 1 more game as experience told in the end with Venus’s 40 winners, including 17 in the 3rd set, helping her to a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory. “She played a great match. She didn’t let go. When I had opportunities to break, she would play breakpoints, serve well. So I have to give her a lot of credit for pushing the match to the limit.” Venus said.
“I think we play a really similar game. I hope that my experience will help me to play that game that we play better.” Venus said of her opponent. It’s easy to see the similarities with both displaying easy power at times although Osaka struggles with consistency at times in her still young career. It could be a thriller if both ladies are on their game although Venus does have the advantage at this point. It will be their first meeting after injury meant their Auckland encounter did not happen this year.
Prediction – Venus Williams in three sets