All in for this one… Venus Williams will open her campaign in Montreal against Barbora Strycova as second round action continues on Wednesday at the Rogers Cup.
In her first match of the week, Strycova recovered from a set down to record her fifth consecutive victory over Caroline Garcia, 2-6 6-3 6-3. Garcia won five straight games to bag the opening set against a flat and erratic, Strycova. After a brief rain delay, the Czech player was more committed in the second set and scrapped her way into the lead, hitting more accurately but also forcing the Frenchwoman into errors as the rallies lengthened. There were breaks aplenty and Strycova stopped a run of five straight breaks to open the third set with a rare hold of serve.
In what was a heavily rain-affected match, the pair were on serve in the third set when play was once again halted. On the resumption, Strycova staved off break points at 3-3 and won the last three games to continue an impressive record of winning at least one match at every tournament she has played since February.
Venus reached the final in Stanford last week, eventually falling in three sets to the Brit, Johanna Konta. It was another good week for Venus who seemed to be having a ball. She looked particularly impressive during her semi-final win over Alison Riske. It’s really encouraging to see her playing without strapping on her thigh. The turnaround may be tough, but she’s proven on many occasions before that her fighting spirit can pull her through.
Head-to-head record: Venus has won all three previous encounters against Strycova although the last two both went the distance. Their most recent encounter in Doha, a 7-5 3-6 7-6(5) victory for Venus, was a super match, laced with drama and ending with THIS HANDSHAKE… That stare hahaha!
Interesting stat: Venus’s only previous appearance in Montreal was back in 2014 where she scrapped her way to the final, winning four three setters including defeating sister, Serena in the semi-finals
Final thoughts: Strycova has had a brilliant year, perhaps slightly understated, which has included two finals and seven wins at the Slams. Venus’s year has suddenly surged in her last three tournaments where she reached both the second weeks of the French Open and Wimbledon including her first Slam semi-final since 2010 at SW19. This match will depend on the conditions and Venus’s level as she has played a lot of tennis in the last month. I’d fancy Strycova to have a shot of winning this one despite the head-to-head…