Serena Williams continues her next attempt for a 24th grand slam on Saturday, taking on another American in Sofia Kenin. She has been struggling to get going on the tour this year with knee issues causing several withdrawals in the past few months.
A much anticipated clash with Bianca Andreescu did not happen after the Canadian withdrew with a shoulder injury before her second round clash with Kenin. Kenin has not had the hype of several other young Americans but the 20 year old has had a solid career to date, spending most of the year inside the top 40. Her grinding style has proven better on hard courts so far but she had a decent run in Rome, beating Madison Keys and playing eventual winner Karolina Pliskova tough in a three setter.
After a less than stellar opener against Vitalia Diatchenko, it was more straight forward for Serena against Kurumi Nara. She served strongly and hit 34 winners in a 6-3 6-2 win over the qualifier, never facing a break point in the process. “She was just playing really tactical tennis, and I just had to play a little bit better.” she said on the win.
The pair have yet to play on tour but Serena is familiar with the threat she can pose, citing her initial rise to prominence in Australia, where she won Hobart at the start of the year. “I think it will be a good match. She has a lot to bring to the table. She has a lot of excitement, and she’s a good player. She’s so young, and she’s such a good player. I’m actually looking forward to that match.” she said. The match is still going to be on Serena’s racquet and increasingly more – her bodies ability to hold up in tough matches these days.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets