Former World No. 1 Serena Williams will return to the court for the first time after the COVID-19 break when she takes on compatriot Bernarda Pera in the first round of the Lexington Open 2020.
Williams has slipped to the ninth position in the WTA women's singles rankings, but she holds the top seed in this competition. The 23-time Slam champion has won one title in 2020, while her win-loss record is 8-2.
With many of the top women's players still away from the court amid the pandemic, Serena Williams will start as the favorite to win the Top Seed Open. However, the likes of Aryna Sabalenka, Johanna Konta and Sloane Stephens would be keen to give the 38-year-old a run for her money.
Serena Williams will open her campaign against Bernarda Pera, who has victories over Barbora Strycova and Coco Vandeweghe in 2020. The Zadar-born player had made headlines by knocking out Johanna Konta at the 2018 Australian Open, and was recently a part of the Washington Kastles team at the World TeamTennis event.
As for the 25-year-old's record in 2020, Bernarda Pera has competed in 12 matches on the WTA tour this year, winning seven of them. She attained a career-high ranking of No. 59 in March earlier this year.
With Williams heading into this contest without much match practice, Pera would fancy her chances of upsetting the seven-time Wimbledon champion.
Serena Williams vs Bernarda Pera head-to-head
The two American players haven't crossed paths so far in their careers; the first round match at the Lexington Open 2020 will be their first encounter ever.
Serena Williams is a powerful baseline player, who can rifle winners at will off either wing. Her serve is also a major weapon, and is widely regarded as the best in history.
For Bernarda Pera to make a match of this, she will have to make the best use of the opportunities she gets on Williams' serve - because she is unlikely to get many. Pera plays pretty aggressively herself, so if she manages to get into the rallies she could open up the court with her forehand and assume some measure of control.
Given that Pera has a decent record on hardcourts, and Williams has not been at her best lately, the six-time US Open winner is unlikely to have an easy ride in her first-round match at the Lexington Open 2020.
Serena Williams vs Bernarda Pera prediction
While rust and form will be a factor for Serena Williams in her first match since January, we can expect the top seed to overcome the challenge from Bernarda Pera. It will not be a cakewalk for the former World No. 1, but she should be able to beat her compatriot and seal her place in the second round.
Prediction: Serena Williams to win in three sets.Published 11 Aug 2020, 13:48 IST