?? Western & Southern Open – R3 Preview + Prediction:
?? (3) Serena Williams vs. ?? (13) Maria Sakkari
Serena Williams continues her US Open preparations on Tuesday evening with a third round clash against the 13th seeded Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open in New York. Williams is coming off a marathon victory in her first outing of the tournament and is potentially vulnerable heading into this clash against a player that’s been in great form this week. Can Sakkari pull off the upset?
Maria Sakkari has picked up a pair of straight set victories to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows. The 25-year-old started the week with an impressive 6-1 6-3 thrashing of the much-hyped Cori Gauff. Sakkari was forced to work much harder for her second round victory and did well to overcome Yulia Putintseva 6-4 7-6. Sakkari saved a pair of set points in an epic second set tiebreak which she eventually won 11-9 to secure a hard-fought win over the Kazakh.
Serena Williams is making a habit of getting herself into lengthy battles against opponents she would expect to beat comfortably. All 3 of Serena’s matches went the distance in her first tournament back at the Top Seed Open in Lexington. The 23-time Grand Slam champion made a similarly unconvincing start to her Western & Southern Open campaign, a 7-6 3-6 7-6 win over Arantxa Rus in a match that last just over 3 hours. Williams will have a little over 24 hours to recover for her clash against Sakkari, a potentially problematic scenario for the 38-year-old.
The only previous meeting between the pair took place at the Hopman Cup in 2018, Williams won that match 7-6 6-2.
I’m going to side with Sakkari here. The biggest factor heading into this match is the limited rest Williams has coming off a gruelling 3-hour match in extreme heat. Williams herself admitted she struggled physically during that match, the American will be made to work for every point against Sakkari, so she will need to recover quickly. Conversely, Sakkari comes into this match full of confidence after a pair of straight set wins over tough opponents and will be very keen to claim a victory over such an icon of the game. Sakkari is the type of opponent Williams has struggled with over the last few years, a counter-puncher with weapons. If Sakkari can make this a physical battle, she is likely to come out on top, especially with Williams having one eye on the US Open next week.