The stage is set for the 31st career meeting between Serena Williams and Venus Williams. And this time, it will come in the second round of the inaugural Top Seed Open.
Venus, who took a late entry into the Lexington draw, landed in a quarter featuring not only her younger sister but also two other Slam champions. The 40-year-old got the better of Victoria Azarenka in the opening round in emphatic fashion, and her reward is a match with her sister.
Serena had a harder time against local talent Bernarda Pera, but eventually overcame her slow start to triumph in three sets. She peaked in the third set and ran away with the last few games.
Those should be worrying signs for the elder Williams, who hasn't put up much resistance against her sister in recent times. Venus has been searching for consistency ever since her stunning 2017 season, and will be desperate for a positive result here.
The seven-time Major champion can still hit strong first serves and powerful forehands, but struggles to maintain a high level for long. She has also been uncharacteristically slow at the beginning of contests lately, and is often seen playing catch up with her opponents.
All of that wouldn't make good reading for Venus Williams. And a slow start will certainly not work against Serena, who looked increasingly dangerous as her match progressed on Tuesday.
Serena Williams vs Venus Williams head-to-head
Venus and Serena Williams have played each other on 30 prior occasions, with Serena leading the head-to-head 18-12. They played twice in 2018 (hardcourt matches at Indian Wells and the US Open), and each scored a rather convincing win over the other.
That said, it is Serena who has had the upper hand in a majority of their recent head-to-head contests; she has won 8 of their last 10 matches. It is also worth noting that you have to go way back to 2008 to see Venus score back-to-back wins against her younger sister.
That sort of record would give Serena a mental advantage even before the start of the match. And while Venus is no stranger to playing under pressure, she might run out of gas if she is made to work extra hard at the start.
Serena Williams vs Venus Williams prediction
All the signs are leaning Serena's way, but Venus did seem to be in supreme control of her shots in the opening match here at Lexington. She was hitting the ball cleanly and rarely faltered at the net.
That performance could give her a boost coming into this one. And while Serena does remain the favorite to win, an aggressive Venus could could easily push her to the edge.
If the 40-year-old makes a strong start and keeps up the pressure with her forehand and net approaches, she can very well give Serena a run for her money.
Prediction: Serena to win in three sets.
Tournament: Top Seed Open 2020
Venue: Lexington, USA
Category: WTA International
Prize money: $225,500
Match timing: 12.30 pm EDT, 10 pm ISTPublished 12 Aug 2020, 21:51 IST