The Top Seed Open in Lexington brought some exciting matches on Tuesday, with Serena Williams, Cori Gauff and Venus Williams all hitting the court after each other. Serena took down Bernarda Pera after dropping the opening set, playing better and better for the first triumph since the Fed Cup in February.
Cori Gauff battled past Caroline Dolehide in two tight sets, setting the stage for a potential thriller between Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka. It wasn't easy to predict anything after such a long break caused by the coronavirus, and Venus emerged as a winner, toppling the Belarusian 6-3, 6-2 in 80 minutes.
The 40-year-old American has been working hard on her game during the break, eager to extend her career and fight against the rivals from the top. Azarenka couldn't match her pace today, experiencing the sixth loss in eight clashes against the veteran and finishing her participation in the opening round.
Thus, Serena and Venus Williams will fight against each other for the 31st time on Thursday in the second round, with Serena leading the overall score 18-12. Serving at 70%, Venus produced excellent performance behind the initial shot against Victoria, forcing the Belarusian to repeat that if she wanted to stay in contention.
Instead, Vika suffered three breaks from as many chances offered to the American, chasing result from the middle of the first set and never regaining composure. Williams held with a service winner in the first game and there was nothing for the returners to work with in the opening five games.
Victoria blasted a strong serve for a hold at love in game four, before all changed two games later thanks to a double fault, losing serve at love and pushing Venus 4-2 ahead. The veteran closed the seventh game with two service winners at deuce, serving for the set at 5-2.
In Lexington, Serena and Venus Williams will face each other for the 31st time.
In her last push, Azarenka created a break point in that ninth game, denied by brave hitting from Venus, who brought the game home for a 6-3.
The Belarusian sprayed a forehand error in the first game of the second set, falling further behind and finding herself 3-0 down following another break for Williams in game three. Venus held with a service winner to extend the lead, forcing an error from the opponent in game six and sealing the deal with a perfect lob at 5-2 for the place in the second round.
Serena and Venus had played for the first time 22 and a half years ago at the Australian Open, staying competitive after more than two decades and preparing for another thrilling contest on Thursday.