Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Exhibition
🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko
Serena Williams will make her much anticipated return to competitive play at a special exhibition match in Abu Dhabi. The 23-time Grand Slam Champion will come up against reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko. This promises to be an exciting encounter, the pair have never played each other in a competitive match, just one of the exciting factors heading into the match.
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Serena Williams will be playing her first match in almost a year after giving birth to her first child in September. Williams and Ostapenko will bring the spotlight to the WTA at the 10th Edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, the first time women have competed at the annual season opening championship.
Jelena Ostapenko arrives in Abu Dhabi soon after competing at an exhibition event in Hua Hin, Thailand. Ostapenko played a couple of matches in Hua Hin, losing in straight sets on both occasions. The Latvian was beaten by Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta quite comfortably. Notably, Ostapenko changed racquet’s during the off-season, the 20-year-old was seemingly struggling to find her range in her matches in Hua Hin and gestured that she was having trouble with her new racquet on a few occasions.
Serena Williams has not played a competitive match since she claimed her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2017. It was later revealed that Williams was in the early stages of pregnancy during her title run in Melbourne. It has remained doubtful that Serena would make the trip to Australia to defend her title, however it is now clear that Serena will remarkably defend her title in Melbourne given her appearance in Abu Dhabi. Every match Serena can play before Melbourne is important given her lengthy time away from the court, it will be interesting to see what kind of level Serena can bring to the court at the MWTC.
It is worth noting that the addition of this match in Abu Dhabi is related to the high profile withdrawals from the annual men’s event. Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka have all pulled out of the event. Serena was undoubtedly lured to Abu Dhabi with a huge pay cheque.
Australian Open, 🇦🇺🏆 Championship match preview
(2) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs (13) 🇺🇸 Venus Williams
Serena Williams and Venus Williams will go head-to-head in a Grand Slam singles final for the 9th time when they compete for the Australian Open title on Saturday night. The sisters competed in the final of the Australian Open in 2003, now 14 years later they are still at the top of the game. The longevity and dominance of the Williams sisters is unprecedented, Saturday’s final will be a good chance to celebrate this fact. As for the match, Serena has always said that Venus is her toughest opponent and Venus would say the same about Serena. This is more than just a tennis match, with so much on the line for both and so many emotions involved, it will be intriguing to see how the 2017 Australian Open championship match unfolds.
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Australian Open, 🇦🇺 Semi-Final #2 match preview
(2) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇭🇷 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Serena Williams and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni first went head-to-head in Sydney in 1998. On Thursday, almost two decades later, the pair will meet at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open. Lucic-Baroni’s fairytale story has gone on for longer than anyone could have expected, the Croat is now unbelievably just two wins away from achieving one of the great sporting miracles. In her way is the 22-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams. Serena will is now within touching distance of Grand Slam 23 which will see her surpass Steffi Graff which will leave the American as the most successful champion in the open era.
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Australian Open, 🇦🇺 Quarter-Final #4 match preview
(9) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta vs (2) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams
The most anticipated match of the tournament thus far will take place on Wednesday when 6-time former champion Serena Williams comes up against Johanna Konta. Konta and Williams have both advanced to the final eight stage without dropping a set. The Brit is the form player on the tour at the moment, clearly playing the best tennis in the last couple of weeks, having absolutely dominated some quality opponents. This will be the first ever match between Serena and Johanna, it will be very interesting to see how Konta’s game matches up against the almighty Serena Williams.
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Australian Open, 🇦🇺 Second Round Match preview
(2) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇨🇿 Lucie Safarova
Serena Williams continues her bid for a seventh Australian Open title on Thursday night when she comes up against Lucie Safarova in a dangerous second round match-up. It was only a year and a half ago that these two were playing in the final of Roland Garros, now they meet at the second round stage of a major (courtesy of Safarova’s ranking slip). Williams will be wary of Safarova but will head into this match with a lot of confidence having won all 9 previous matches between the pair.
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Australian Open, 🇦🇺 First Round Match Preview
(2) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic
The standout first round match at the 2017 Australian Open on the women’s side sees 6-time former champion Serena Williams come up against Belinda Bencic. The Swiss 19-year-old is arguably the most dangerous unseeded player in the draw and has been dealt the most brutal first round clash, coming up against the greatest player of all time. Bencic will come into this match with some confidence having won the most recent meeting between the pair but Serena will be desperate for revenge on route to her quest for glory.
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2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina
Serena Williams will continue her quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal on Wednesday evening when she comes up against Elina Svitolina at the third round stage in Rio. Serena has looked fairly sharp in her opening couple of matches, overcoming a couple of tough opponents in straight sets. Serena will face a familiar challenge against Svitolina, one she should be very well equipped to overcome.
Serena Williams has needed to be on guard from the very beginning of the tournament in Rio. The world number 1 and reigning Olympic singles champion started her Rio campaign with a hard-fought 6-4 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova, the first set was fairly close before Serena ran away with the match in the second set. Serena’s second round match followed a similar path. Serena advanced to the third round courtesy of a 7-6 6-2 win over Alize Cornet, the American was in trouble at several stages in the opening set where she managed to save a couple of set points before comfortably claiming the second set. Serena wasn’t at her best in her first few matches but her level has generally been pretty good.
Elina Svitolina has made a fitting start to her first ever Olympic campaign. The Ukrainian has advanced to the third round in Rio thanks to a couple of gutsy victories. Svitolina was forced to come from a set down in her opening round clash against Andrea Petkovic before beating Heather Watson 6-3 1-6 6-3. The surface in Rio is well suited to Elina’s game, a dead hard court which encourages long rallies and rewards those that can move well around the court (which is one of Svitolina’s greatest strengths).
Serena Williams holds a 4-0 head-to-head record over Elina Svitolina, three of those four matches were straight set wins including their last two meetings: a 6-4 6-3 win in Cincinnati last year and a commanding 6-1 6-1 win at Roland Garros earlier this year.
This might be the ideal surface for Svitolina to play Serena on, however I still expect Serena to win this match quite comfortably. Serena has played a couple of players that have quite similar games to Svitolina so she will be well prepared heading into this match and will know exactly what she has to do against this type of opponent on this surface. Svitolina will be typically tough but ultimately she lacks the weapons and bravery under pressure to really challenge Serena.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets
2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R1 🇧🇷
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇦🇺 Daria Gavrilova
Serena Williams will begin her 2016 Olympic games campaign with a potentially tricky opening round clash against Daria Gavrilova. Serena claimed her first gold medal in an Olympics singles draw in London in 2012 and looms as an overwhelming favourite to repeat that achievement in 2016. Daria Gavrilova will enter her first ever match at an Olympic Games as a huge underdog with nothing to lose and should see this match as a great opportunity.
Serena has had a couple of disappointments in 2016 but she is still having a great season, the world number 1 arrives in Rio having won 18 of her last 19 matches. Gavrilova’s form has been far less impressive having won just 4 of her last 10 matches. Sunday’s match in Rio will be the first ever clash between Serena and Daria.
Serena is clearly a massive favourite heading into this match and rightfully so. However, if Serena makes a sluggish start, Gavrilova will pounce. The young Australian has shown that she likes to play on the biggest stages and against the best in the world. If Serena is on her game she will be far too powerful for Gavrilova, the Australian will be relying on her outstanding movement to draw errors from Serena’s racquet, a formula that doesn’t usually work against the world number 1. Serena seems focused enough to get the job done pretty comfortably.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Daria Gavrilova in 2 sets
Wimbledon – Championship Match Preview + Prediction
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs (4) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber
Then there were two. Saturday’s final features a blockbuster matchup between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final where the German stunned the world number 1 to claim her first Grand Slam title. Serena will be eager to avenge that loss and claim a historic 22nd Grand Slam title which would equal Steffi Graf’s record of most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era.
Serena Williams has seemingly improved in each and every match throughout the tournament. Serena enters Saturday’s final full of confidence having played superb tennis in her last couple of matches at SW19. Serena has been unstoppable ever since her second round scare against Christina McHale, the American stormed past Annika Beck, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina in commanding fashion. Serena was at her dominant best in her semi-final clash with Elena Vesnina on Thursday, the world number 1 required just 48 minutes to record a 6-2 6-0 win over Elena Vesnina and book her spot in a 9th Wimbledon final.
The 6-time former champion has served exceptionally well in her last couple of matches, especially in her semi-final match where Serena blasted 11 aces past the Russian and dropped just 3 points overall behind her serve. When Serena is serving at her best she is almost impossible to beat, especially on a grass court, a good sign for the American heading into Saturday’s final.
Angelique Kerber is showing that her title run at the Australian Open earlier this year was no fluke. The German should now be considered the undisputed world number 2 and will be a very dangerous opponent for Serena in Saturday’s final. Kerber has breezed into her first Wimbledon final without dropping a set. Kerber booked her spot in the final with a reasonably comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over Venus Williams. It was a very professional performance by Angie, a victory that shows she has a newfound maturity and sense of confidence at the later stages of Grand Slam events. Kerber also recorded straight set victories over Laura Robson, Varvara Lepchenko, Carina Witthoeft, Misaki Doi and Simona Halep on route to the final.
Serena Williams holds a 5-2 head-to-head record over Angelique Kerber. Of course there most recent match took place earlier this year in the final of the Australian Open where Kerber claimed a memorable 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory. Angie played exceptionally well throughout the match, coming up with outstanding passing shots, serving well and hitting some important drop shot winners. Kerber arguably played the match of her life in the Australian Open final and may need to play even better than that if she is to stop a determined Serena Williams on Saturday.
I suspect this will be a fairly comfortable win for the world number 1. Serve will be a major factor, Serena is serving well enough to suggest that she can comfortably take care of her service games on most occasions whilst Kerber has struggled behind her own serve in her last couple of matches, the German’s second serve will get smashed by Serena on this surface. The German will therefore struggle to keep up with Serena. From the baseline, things are much more even and Angie has shown that she can trouble Serena. Again, Serena is favoured by the surface because Angie will have less time to come up with the magical shots that she executed in the Australian Open final. Serena will be extremely fired up for this match, it’s hard to see this match ending in anything other than a commanding Serena Williams victory.
Prediction: Serena William to defeat Angelique Kerber in 2 sets
Wimbledon 🇬🇧🍓 Semi-Final #1 Match Preview + Prediction
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇷🇺 Elena Vesnina
Serena Williams is just two wins away from claiming a historic 22nd Grand Slam title. The world number 1 will enter her 10th Wimbledon semi-final as an overwhelming favorite when she comes up against first time Grand Slam semi-finalist Elena Vesnina. Serena will not be taking her opponent lightly given what happened to the American at this stage of the U.S Open last year where she suffered a shock loss to Roberta Vinci.
Serena got off to a relatively slow start at this year’s championships but arrives at the semi-final stage of the event in ominous form. Serena seemed to be sparked into action after her second round scare against Christina McHale where the world number one was surprisingly pushed into a tight third set. Since that match Serena has claimed three comprehensive straight set victories on route to the final four. A 6-3 6-0 win over Annika Beck, a 7-5 6-0 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova before booking her spot in an 8th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final with a 6-4 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
A resurgent Elena Vesnina is into her first Grand Slam semi-final, an achievement that seemed impossible earlier this year when Vesnina was ranked outside the top 100 and failed to qualify for the Australian Open main draw. Vesnina cruised through the first week without dropping a set, claiming straight set victories over Tamira Paszek, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Boserup. Vesnina's greatest challenge came at the fourth round stage where she claimed an extremely hard-fought 5-7 6-1 9-7 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. Vesnina booked a maiden Grand Slam semi-final singles appearance with a 6-2 6-2 win over a fatigued Dominika Cibulkova.
Serena Williams holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Elena Vesnina. All four of Serena’s victories over the Russian were comfortable straight set victories, including a 6-2 6-2 win in Beijing back in 2013 in their most recent encounter.
Serena should win this match quite comfortably. The world number 1 has looked closer to her best in her last couple of matches and seems as determined as ever to succeed. Vesnina does have an awkward game that may cause Serena a few problems but ultimately Serena is far too powerful and far more experienced on this stage and should claim a straight set win.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Elena Vesnina in 2 sets