Venus Williams will compete in her 21st US Open this year, taking on Saisai Zheng for a spot in the second round. It’s a testament to the quality of Venus, who can still play at a high level at the age of 39. Her first US Open came in 1997, when she made the final as an unseeded player.
Zheng has something of an unconventional playing style and can mix it up well but doesn’t particularly offer much in the way of power. It’s something that worked wonders in her win over Aryna Sabalenka in the San Jose final, sending the ultra attacking Belarussian mad on her way to a straight sets victory. The title was her first on the WTA Tour and moved her inside the top 40 to a career high ranking. It has been a good year all round for the Chinese player, who won her fourth doubles title and first doubles slam final in 2019.
Venus will hope to go better than her first round exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year. The former was not a great surprise given her performances on clay but the loss to Cori Gauff was a big shock, even if the 15 year old is one of the stars of the future. She looked much better in moving to the hard courts of Cincinnati, beating Kiki Bertens and Donna Vekic on her way to the quarter finals. She was beaten by Madison Keys but that is no great shame with her fellow American in top form recently.
Venus is unlikely to find herself in the tournament at the latter end of next week but should be good for a few rounds, especially if an out of form Elina Svitolina awaits her in round two as expected.
Prediction – Venus Williams in straight sets