Vesnina will more or less have to play this way to contend with Serena Williams
Serena Williams vs. Elena Vesnina
Serena Williams is obviously the favorite in this match, but does that mean she will win? Vesnina has certain qualities that could help her win this match. Vesnina moves well, takes the ball early when she can, has a nice two-handed backhand and the ability to slice a one-handed backhand, and has good touch around the net. Will that be enough?
At the 2015 US Open in which Serena played quite tight tennis, that might well have been enough. At the 2016 Australian Open, Angelique Kerber’s scrambling and lefty forehand counter-punches hurt Serena. At Roland Garros, Garbine Muguruza’s big game were able to put Serena on the defensive. Vesnina will likely need to be able to make an impression on Serena to have a chance at victory. This is easier said than done.
Vesnina probably will be put on the defensive by Serena’s serves, returns, and ground strokes. If Vesnina has to move backward in terms of court positioning, she will live and die on Serena’s unforced error count. Vesnina has to perform the unenviable task of both sticking with and augmenting her game. Vesnina will have to take the ball early even when the pace coming from Serena makes that difficult. She will have to make a few judicious forays into the net as well as hit a few off pace shots to Serena. Even if she executes all of this, she will likely be the underdog.
I think Serena Williams will hold serve often enough to be comfortable and when she gets into a comfort zone, her returns and ground strokes will take control of the match.
My Prediction: Serena Williams d. Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3
Confidence in my prediction – high
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