Former world no. 1 and seven town Grand Slam champion Venus Williams continues to look for form and match as she looks to begin her campaign at the 2020 Monterrey Open.
Her opponent in the first round, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova is returning from a few months off of tennis in the back half of 2019 and has just about begun to find her stride again.
It will be the third career meeting between the two women with the head to head set at a deadlock of one match win each, with Williams having won the only meeting on hardcourts.
And that will be an important stat as the Slovak has been a solid clay court player, having struggled a fair bit on other surfaces. A former junior French Open finalist, her strengths lie in the strong defence and great counter-punching skills.
The silver lining here is the fact that Williams has struggled against that particular style of play in recent months. When pitted against players who keep sending the balls back, the 39 year old has struggled with erratic play.
Schmiedlova will be looking to finally get that big win on her comeback and place herself well for a deep run at the tournament.
If she manages to find a foothold in the Williams' service game, things could get very interesting. The big-hitting of the American has been a bit of hit and miss in recent matches.
It will then really come down to the service stats. Establishing an early foothold will be more important for Williams, who has had a few big three sets losses already this year.
However, if Schmiedlova can find a way to stay in the rallies long enough, the errors will begin to come. And once that happens, things unravel quickly for Williams.
Prediction: Williams to win in two tight setsPublished 02 Mar 2020, 16:41 IST