Auckland R1: (1) Venus Williams vs Daria Kasatkina
Venus Williams will commence her title defense at the ASB Classic in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon when she comes up against Russian rising star Daria Kasatkina. Venus will be hoping to carry her late 2015 season form which saw her win the WTA Elite trophy into the Australian summer.
Venus Williams had an unbelievable season in 2015, claiming titles in Auckland, Wuhan and Zhuhai to break into the top 10 for the first time in four years. It will be interesting to see if Venus can take another step forward in 2016 and perhaps claim an elusive eighth Grand Slam title?
Venus has thrived in Auckland over the past couple of years, reaching the final in 2014 and claiming the title in 2015. Venus will want to make another quality start to the year in 2016, there is no reason to suggest that she cannot make a third consecutive final at the event and perhaps defend her title.
According to many Daria Kasatkina is one of the most promising young talents on the WTA tour. The Russian made her first real impact at a big event towards the end of 2015 when she came through the qualifying draw to reach the semi-finals at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Kasatkina has a solid all-round game, great movement and a big forehand are two of her greatest weapons on court.
This will be the first meetings between the pair and probably the toughest opponent Kasatkina has ever come up against in her young career. It will be a daunting occasion for Kasatkina, it will be interesting to see how she handles the occasion. I suspect Venus will be far too powerful for the 18-year-old and come through this match rather comfortably.