Venus Williams continues what could be a farewell tour on Monday, taking on Veronika Kudermetova for a spot in the second round of Cincinnati. While no retirement announcement has happened yet, a logical stopping point would be this year’s US Open for the 43 year-old. This is Kudermetova’s first match since Wimbledon, having missed Montreal.
Kudermetova’s strong serving and grass credentials had seen her expected to do well at Wimbledon but she was an early loser, departing in the second round. While the straight sets loss to Marketa Vondrousova doesn’t look so bad in retrospect, it is definitely one she would have been disappointed with at the time. She made the third round here in both 2020 and 2022, her best runs so far.
While the wins may not be coming, it is clear that Venus still enjoys the challenge of the tour even now. She gave Madison Keys a fight in Montreal, falling to a 6-2 7-5 defeat but not before saving eight match points along the way. Health is always going to be the issue for Venus at this point but she is putting in all the hard work possible in an attempt to remain competitive. “I love what I do and over the past few years for me, they haven’t been healthy years,” Williams said. “I need to be in a place where I can play on my terms the way I’d like to play.”
While Venus is clearly finding things difficult in 2023, she hasn’t been wiped off the court in any of her matches so far. The same probably happens here with her serve and power able to win enough games to keep it competitive but not enough to pull off a shock win against a quality top 20 opponent.
Prediction – Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets