Once again getting the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Serena Williams will be hoping to avoid having to say goodbye for another two nights during her last singles tournament. Second seed Anett Kontaveit is strongly expected to be the one to put an end to her career on that front but the pressure on the player that does that is going to be huge.
Kontaveit’s post-US Open run last year was one of the more impressive streaks of form on this tour in recent memory – picking up several titles on her way to making the WTA Finals and building on that this year to become the World No. 2. Issues with COVID have plagued her during the middle part of this year, with several disappointing results following her contracting the virus and during the recovery stages. She was able to ease into the tournament in round one, defeating Jacqueline Cristian in straight sets.
Most notably on serve, Serena did look poor early on in her 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic. Buoyed by the crowd, she did improve in the second set and looked better than she had for much of her recent comeback matches. “The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there. That’s a tough feeling to have, and to leave knowing the more you do it, the more you can shine.” she said, perhaps suggesting she can play herself into one last flurry of form.
Were this match played with Kontaveit of late 2021, this feels like one that would have been over very quickly. With question marks over Kontaveit and a crowd capable of dragging Serena over the line, this could become far more scrappy of an affair than expected. Kontaveit should still edge it if the six-time champs serve is off but with an opponent fighting for their career out there, it could go all the way.
Prediction – Anett Kontaveit in three sets