Thursday, August 08, 2013

ROGERS CUP 2013: Venus Loses 1st Match Back

Venus Williams returned to the WTA Tour on Tuesday at the Rogers Cup in Toronto after more than two months away and lost her 1st round match 0-6 6-4 6-2 to Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens. Venus is currently ranked World #38 while Flipkens is World #13 so in that light the result should not be thought of as an upset. Both players were coming off long absences from the game due to injury, since Flipkens had not played since Wimbledon and Venus had not played since Roland Garros (1st round loss to Urszula Radwanska).

The match turned in the second set when everything was on serve until 4-5 in the set. (I managed to watch most of the set while on a flight from Washington, DC to Los Angeles--thank you DirecTV in flight!) Venus could barely hit a serve up to 100 mph, a far cry from her typical speed well over 110 mph. She claims that she is treating her back injury gingerly and that explains her diminution of serving power. However, there were other reasons why she lost the match: she had 16 breakpoints compared to her opponent's 8 but they both broke the same number of times, so Venus was exactly half as effective on important points as her opponent.

Interestingly, Serena Williams will face Flipkens tomorrow in the 3rd round. If Serena loses, that would be a shocking result. Other interesting matches include Sloane Stephens and Agnieska Radwanska, Li Na and Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur as well as 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and Magdalena Rybarikova (She won the Citi Open last weekend).

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