Serena Williams looks to secure her place in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday afternoon when she takes on Qiang Wang for the second slam running. The American will be hoping for a similar result to in New York, where she won 6-1 6-0 in the quarter-finals.
Despite that loss, it was an extremely productive 2019 for the Chinese player, who earned a career high ranking of No.12 and spent much of her time inside the top 20 before falling out of it late in the year. She is rarely seen as a player who can trouble the top tier on the tour with a win over then No.2 Ashleigh Barty in New York being seen as a big surprise. She has cruised through her opening rounds here, beating Pauline Parmentier and Fiona Ferro in straight sets.
Serena made it two straight sets victories this week with a 6-2 6-3 win over Tamara Zidansek booking her spot in the third round. She wasn’t the most pleased with her performance but will be happy to have fought off a spirited opponent, who missed several chances for a break lead midway through the second set. “I just started making way too many errors,” she said afterwards. “I mean, more errors than I have been making in my good matches in the past. I just wasn’t doing the right technique, catching the ball not in my strike zone. It was just all off so I had to adjust… So just having to say, OK, not every match is going to be perfect, how to work through that.
Serena will be hoping to have been over the worst of her struggles in round two as she takes on an opponent she knows she can beat comfortably. Whether Qiang Wang is able to take advantage on this occasion is questionable but a one-sided affair looks less likely without the warmth of home US crowd for Serena.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets