It’s a blockbuster first round match-up in Auckland between seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Both are trying to start the 2019 season on a high after their disappointing ends to the previous season; who will come up trumps in Auckland? Read on for the dedicated preview…
Auckland, First Round
Victoria Azarenka (No.51) vs  Venus Williams (No.38)
Returning from the infamous custody battle, Victoria Azarenka started the 2018 season on a high with solid runs in Indian Wells and Miami, reaching the fourth round and semifinals respectively. Since the tour shifted to the clay and grass courts, Azarenka has been unable to replicate that form, barely able to string wins together at all. Azarenka’s coming into the new season with Wim Fisette, who has been in her coaching team before,and perhaps Fisette will be able to find away to bring Azarenka to her previous level.
Just like Azarenka’s slump post-Miami, Venus Williams also pretty much was in a rut in 2018, except that it lasted the entire season for the American. She lost in the first week in the first three Grand Slams, amassed a mediocre 17-11 win-loss record and ended the year at a world ranking of No.38. During the off season, Williams decided to split ways with majority of her team, including long-time head coach David Witt. Whilst a surprising move, it shows that Williams still has the intent to continue playing and improving. It will be very interesting to see how Venus backs up her disappointing 2018.
Head to head: Williams leads the head to head 4-2, however Azarenka has won their last two matches in Doha and Madrid back in 2015.
Thoughts: This head to head is completely in Venus’ favour, but with their previous meeting back in 2015, it is probably a bit obsolete considering so many things have happened to them. While Azarenka will be playing her first match of the season, Venus has already had one match at the Abu Dhabi exhibition and looked quite good in that one. Furthermore, the former champion Venus should be accustomed to the conditions as she loves Auckland, opting to start off the season in the city in the last five of six years. Thus, I’m going for the American to come through in a messy yet enthralling encounter.
Final Prediction: Venus Williams d. Victoria Azarenka in three sets
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Auckland predictions here!