Venus Williams was the name that made the most impact on the opening day of the 2023 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. On Monday, the veteran American pipped 16th seed Veronika Kudermetova in their first-round clash, 6-4, 7-5.
The 43-year-old needed two hours and eight minutes to secure the win for herself. Despite the straight-sets win, Williams looked to be in trouble across both sets as she had a double-break deficit in both sets. However, the seven-time Grand Slam champion’s tennis acumen shone through in those moments as she not only erased the dual-break advantage Kudermetova had but also ensured the proceedings turned out in her favour, at the end of the match.
Williams won 64% of her first-serve points and 44% of her second-serve points. She also won 66% points on return on Kudermetova’s second serve, even as the latter won 68% of her first-serve points. Williams saved three of the seven break points she faced and made good of six break points that headed her way.
For the match, Williams had seven fewer winners than Kudermetova’s 16 but also had 18 fewer unforced errors than her opponent’s 33.
Western & Southern Open: A win that was long time coming for Venus Williams
Following the match, Williams shared, “Definitely satisfaction from today is (from) all the work that goes into just being here at all.
I did my best to be here as soon as possible in the best form possible I could bring in that amount of time. So that makes it satisfying, to be able to get a win with very little time to prepare”. What makes this win even more momentous for Williams’ that this is the first time in almost four years that the two-time former US Open winner’s beaten a player ranked in the top-20 of the WTA rankings.
Her last win over an opponent bracketed in the top-20 came in Cincinnati itself, against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, in 2019. In the second round of the Western & Southern Open, Venus Williams will either play Qinwen Zheng or Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Photo Credit: Western & Southern Open Twitter