Roland Garros, R2 Prediction
?? (17) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? Serena Williams
There is no doubt that Barty is going to provide a strong challenge for Serena when they meet in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday. Nevertheless, I think it is a challenge that Serena has been waiting for and a challenge that she is ready to overcome.
The first thing that is in Serena’s favour is the surface. Whilst clay is not Serena’s best surface it is a favourable surface for her in this match-up. Clay is Barty’s least preferred surface, it is the surface she has the least experience on and it is the surface where her versatility and net play are least impactful. Conversely, Serena’s outstanding lateral movement and heavy hitting are well suited to this surface.
In a match-up where breaks of serve are likely to be rare, it is Barty’s serve that will come under more pressure. I don’t think Barty has the type of return of serve that will hurt Serena often enough whilst the Aussie’s nerve will be tested, especially when Serena comes after her second serve.
I was very impressed with the intensity that Serena displayed throughout her opening round match, she seemed extremely determined and was hitting and moving well enough. I expect Serena to be too strong here, from what I saw in her first round match it looks like she is on a mission, when she brings that intensity she almost never loses. However, there will likely be some challenging moments as Barty is a quality opponent.