Fixture: (7) Serena Williams vs Irina-Camelia Begu
Date: 31 May 2021
Tournament: Roland Garros 2021
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: €17,171,108
Match timing: Not before 9 pm local time, 7 pm GMT, 3 pm EST, 12.30 am IST
Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Serena Williams vs Irina-Camelia Begu preview
The former World No. 1 hasn't had an ideal preparation for the claycourt Slam. Oral surgery kept her out of action after her run to the semifinals of the Australian Open in February and she struggled mightily on her return, going a disappointing 1-2 on the claycourts of Rome and Parma.
Serena desperately needs to iron out the chinks in her armor before her campaign gets underway in Paris.
Serena could be tested by her first-round opponent, Irina-Camelia Begu. A former World No. 22, the Romanian made the fourth round of the French Open in 2016.
Begu might be languishing at 74th in the world rankings at present, but there's no denying her fighting spirit. The 30-year-old, who has made the quarterfinals twice this year, has managed to test top players such as Bianca Andreescu and Daria Kasatkina, and won't be a pushover for Serena.
Serena Williams vs Irina-Camelia Begu head-to-head
Serena Williams leads Irina-Camelia Begu 1-0 in their head-to-head, having notched up a 6-4, 6-1 win in their solitary encounter in Rome in 2016.
Serena Williams vs Irina-Camelia Begu prediction
Even though Serena Williams posted a commanding win in their only meeting thus far, she won't be relishing the prospect of facing Irina-Camelia Begu.
The American's movement on the red dirt has been laborious in the few matches she has played this year. Her serve, too, hasn't given her the assistance she would have hoped for. In her loss to Katerina Siniakova at Parma, the 39-year-old committed an uncharacteristic seven double faults and landed just 65.2% of her first serves.
Those numbers need drastic improvement if Serena wants to make a deep run in Paris.
Begu, for one, won't back down if the American produces a shabby performance. The seasoned claycourter has a solid baseline game and can hit winners off both wings. The Romanian will hope to use her aggressive style to move Serena around the court and gain an early foothold in this match.
But if Williams manages to clean up her act, she should be able to pull through.
Prediction: Serena Williams to win in three sets.
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