Seven-time champion Serena Williams gets her 19th Australian Open campaign up and running on Monday when she squares off against rising 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova in the first round.
Serena Williams ?? vs Anastasia Potapova ?? Match Info
Date: Monday January 20
Tournament: Australian Open R1
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 12.30pm local time (1.30am GMT)
Serena Williams vs Anastasia Potapova Head-to-Head
First career meeting
Serena Williams vs Anastasia Potapova Match Preview
We might only be a few weeks into 2020, but Serena has already managed to secure her first title in three years at the ASB Classic in Auckland, meaning she’s now won WTA silverware across four different decades. Can the legendary American achieve the same feat with Grand Slams by taking home an eighth Australian Open title over the next fortnight?
Serena won her maiden major crown at the 1999 U.S. Open and claimed the first of her seven Australian Open trophies in 2003 before reigning supreme at Melbourne Park a further six times in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and of course in 2017 when she was three months pregnant, defeating sister Venus in the final. The 38-year-old has a 85-11 record at the Australian Open and will be determined to erase the memories of last year, where she squandered a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.
Unfortunately for Serena, failing to find her best tennis in crucial moments has become a theme as she continues to pursue a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title. She’s lost four major finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2019, falling in straight sets in all of them, with her last tournament of 2019 coming at Flushing Meadows when she lost out to Bianca Andreescu, while Simona Halep outclassed her at Wimbledon.
In saying that, surely it’s only a matter of time before Serena puts it all together again at a Grand Slam. She’s obviously not far away in making four finals since returning to the tour, while last week’s triumph in Auckland has got to have given her some confidence. Serena has the knowledge that when she plays her best, she’s virtually unbeatable, but can she produce that level when it matters most? First things first, she has to accomodate a very dangerous young talent in the opening round on Monday.
Potapova is no stranger to beating Grand Slam champions at majors having conquered Angelique Kerber in the opening round of Roland Garros last season, but no disrespect to the German (who isn’t at her best on clay) this is a step up in class.
A former junior World No. 1 after beating Dayana Yastremska in the 2016 Wimbledon girls final, Potapova first made waves on the WTA Tour as she cracked the top 100 for the first time in 2018 after two runner-up finishes in Moscow and Tashkent. The Russian started 2019 brightly by reaching the second round of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of Budapest – and scored that marquee win over Kerber at Roland Garros to hit a career-high ranking of No. 64 – but after a semi-final in Jurmala, Potapova struggled for the remainder of the year, winning just two main draw matches to end the season at No. 90.
It hasn’t been a great start to 2020 either, with Potapova losing in qualifying at both Brisbane and Adelaide – and now she’s likely to go winless in Australia after drawing the seven-time Australian Open champion in Round 1.
Serena Williams vs Anastasia Potapova Prediction
Potapova has a lot of firepower at her disposal and theoretically could cause Serena some trouble if the American suffers from a slow start. However, we know Serena will fight back if that does eventuate, and then Potapova will have to sustain that level of tennis for over two hours if she is to prevail. That’s unlikely to happen, and with Potapova in poor form in any case, the Russian will do well to keep the sets close in this opening round clash.