By Editorial Team
Venus Williams flies into Auckland fresh off a big win against Serena in Abu Dhabi this week, but the year is just getting started for the 2015 title holder. Venus will now face Victoria Azarenka in the first round of play in what could be a tough challenge as Victoria’s ranking dropped following maternity leave last year as she struggled to win against the top 5 players on tour. Venus has a slight edge in the match due to her power game, recent match play and willingness to compete in early rounds.
In addition to Venus’ return to tour play, Taylor Townsend and Sachia Vickery are making a big push up the rankings this year. Taylor plays Barbora Strycova, the 5th seed, where she should be competitive, but must be able to use her lefty spin to dictate points. Fitness will also be a factor due to the long break leading into the 2019 season.
Sachia must face Kristen Flipkens where she will be most challenged after coming off of a roll coaster season and finishing in a slump due to multiple knee injuries. She now must pull herself together or suffer an early exit as she hopes to elude a rocky start heading into the Australian Open.
Asia Muhammad is also making a stand in the qualifying draw after winning her first round match yesterday to now face fellow American, Danielle Lao. This should be a battle for the main draw spot tomorrow. The energy is definitely running on high in Auckland as these four women fight for position atop of the 2019 season.
All main draw matches begin tomorrow, December 30th, and televised on Tennis Channel.
2021 Calabasas Championships
Battle of the ages: Venus vs. CoCo
By Editorial Team
In addition to becoming the youngest player to enter the main draw of Wimbledon via qualifying, Cori “CoCo” Gauff has earned a prim-time match-up against one of the greatest grass court players of all time in the first round of play.
This match is not only a first, but also a sharp contrast of current generation talent versus veteran grand slam champion. Venus just turned 39 this month and must now face the 15 year old dynamo that goes by CoCo making this a true battle of the ages. Ironically, as in a Hollywood movie, these two are respectively the oldest and youngest players in the tournament.
Venus can sure respect Cori’s hustle in advancing her career at the ripe age of 15. Venus shares a similar start, but was able to win 5 Wimbledon titles with the last win in 2008.
Coming off of a great 2017 season, Venus (unseeded this year) has struggled lately with injuries and fatigue late in matches. This year has not rolled out favorably for Venus after several on-off coaching relationships and hitting partners. Taking on a more independent role of seasoned veteran, Venus is going at it alone on tour. She has a strong management team in place, but they appear to be more assistants than highly experienced coaches giving her instruction.
In contrast, Cori has a tight-knit team around her not to mention her father as head coach. There have been several assistants offering advice, but Corey remains the largest influence on Cori’s progress.
Progress is exactly what they have made – and in short record time. Just last year Cori was making her way toward the Roehamption Championship title as the world’s number one ranked junior. It seems as if Cori has a trusting relationship with her Dad and is able to take constructive criticism in stride. Hard work has been Cori’s mantra since the beginning of her junior career, and that hard work and preparation has landed her here at Wimbledon with a main draw match against Venus Williams.
The odds heavily favor Venus, but nothing is out of the question for Cori. Given the fact that she has played each qualifying round with a “nothing to lose” attitude, it can only be assumed that she will continue to do the same in her first round match.
The big stage is also a factor as Cori has not played on such a large WTA Tour center court yet in her career. This will definitely be a learning experience for Cori. It may be a little ambitious to expect Cori to figure out the atmosphere and surroundings all within a 2 out of 3 match. Cori is undefeated at Roehamption (ITF Juniors and WTA Qualifying), but it remains to be seen if she can muster a win against a declining, but a still very capable Venus Williams on her favorite surface.
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