With her opening round victory over Aranxta Rus, Venus Williams extended her record of winning a WTA Tour match for the 28th consecutive year. The elder Williams sister won her first professional match at age 14 in 1994, and leads both Martina Navratilova (25) and Serena (24) with the astonishing record that will not be broken anytime soon. Somehow, some way, the 40-year-old is still going strong.
“I’m still here, I’m still good at this, I love my job,” she said in Melbourne his week.
At the Yarra Valley Classic, Venus will face off against Petra Kvitova for the eighth time, in a matchup that has yet to end in straight sets. Kvitova owns a 4-3 head-to-head advantage, but has lost their last two encounters, at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open and the 2017 US Open. At 30, Kvitova is 10 years younger yet she hasn’t beaten Venus since 2014. But it’s less surprising when you consider that Venus’ career is a logic-defying one.
Both players play a strikingly similar brand of tennis, Venus with her right hand, Kvitova with her left. Both rely on exceptional first-serve, first-ball combos, and commit to playing offensive tennis throughout their matches.
Kvitova’s slider serve is one of the great weapons in tennis, but Venus’ unparalleled range has negated it in the past. The primary question this time is whether Venus’ inevitable decline in movement will allow her to effectively defend against Kvitova’s incredible serve.
If Kvitova can consistently throw Venus off-balance with accurate serve placement, she should be able to hold serve without much trouble.
The same goes for Venus. If given an attackable reply, she will end the point with the first shot, or with a volley on her second shot.
Kvitova must avoid approaching on weak shots. After her serve, she will hit the majority of her shots towards an open target, but must do better than this if she is to avoid an upset.
In the end, expect Kvitova’s serve placement to force Venus into far too much defense for her liking, which could result in some ill-advised shot selection. This matchup has yet to disappoint, but as a solid -330 favorite, Kvitova’s power should overwhelm the 40-year-old American this time around.
The Pick: Petra Kvitova