Serena Williams will be hoping to avoid the same fate her sister suffered when she takes to the court on Thursday against Kaja Juvan. Venus was shocked by Cori Gauff, 24 years her junior, in round one while the age gap between Serena and Juvan is a slightly smaller 19 years. The seven time champ will be eager to find her footing before a potential rematch of last year’s semi final with Julia Goerges in the next round.
Juvan has not had much of the hype that many players around her junior generation had but she was still a top 5 junior and in draws with the likes of Amanda Anisimova, Bianca Andreescu and Sofia Kenin. It seems fair to say that the Slovenian is more comfortable on clay but did well to qualifying, crushing Christina McHale in the final qualifying round. She followed that up with a good win over Kristyna Pliskova, who can always be dangerous on the grass with her serving.
Serena was decidedly poor in her opening round win over Giulla Gatto-Monticone, eventually beating the Italian 6-2 7-6. She doesn’t look 100% comfortable following her knee injury but doesn’t seem too worried right now, just happy to be completing matches. “I think right now I have to have every match count like 10 matches, because I haven’t had a ton of matches this year,” Serena said afterwards. “I learned a lot from that match, just going to keep the momentum going.”
Juvan’s serve can often be quite vulnerable so that is going to be something she will need to work on for this match, with Serena proving unbreakable at her best. They key to beating Serena these days is always going to be to keep her moving and work her hard, especially with a lack of match sharpness due to injury.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets