One of the top matches on Thursday’s order of play is between former World No.1 Serena Williams and Ashleigh Barty. Somewhat surprisingly, the bookmakers have placed the Australian as the favourite going into the match – likely in large part due to Serena’s lack of match play.
Serena was far from stellar in the opening round against Kristyna Pliskova, getting aced 15 times overall in the 7-6 6-4 win. However, she managed to step up her game at the important moments – coming from 3-0 down in the first set tiebreak to take a 1 set lead. Despite remaining dominant on first serves, her second was punished throughout with just 39% of points won overall on it. The usually ultra-competitive Serena is not putting too much pressure on herself like she has in the past.”I’m definitely here to compete and do the best that I can do.” she said. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself as I normally do.”
Barty eased her way to victory in round one, defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva in straight sets 6-3 6-1. Surprisingly, it is just the second main draw win in Paris for her after losing in the opening round on three of the other four occasions she has played the tournament. Barty retired last week in Strasbourg but there seemed to be no ill effects carrying through to this week going by her first match.
There is definitely huge room for improvement for Serena but much of that will come with time. Barty is a tricky enough player that she can surprise Serena and this match should give more of an idea of her true level – especially with Wimbledon coming up in a months time.
Prediction – Serena Williams in three sets