Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka
|Date & Time||Monday December 31, 2018, 5:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams meet in the first round of the 2019 tennis ASB Classic.
Victoria Azarenka hasn’t played a match since Tokyo when she was forced to retire early in her quarterfinal match. Azarenka spent all year trying to get her feet under her, as she missed a ton of action due to recovery from her pregnancy and personal issues. The time off should help Azarenka get in better shape, but it’s tough to judge just how effective she’ll be with still limited matches under her belt. Azarenka showed flashes of returning to form, but it wasn’t consistent, and she would show her conditioning wasn’t up to speed when playing on back-to-back days. A consistent schedule would likely go a long way to getting Azarenka back to where she once was. Azarenka has split her last eight matches on hard court.
Venus Williams has a recent match under her belt, as she beat her sister Serena in an exhibition match, a performance that took three sets. Venus is another player who had her issues last season, and she didn’t play a match since the US Open. Venus isn’t getting any younger at now 38 years old and the unforced errors often takeover her game. However, Venus still has the power and shotmaking ability, and when she’s on, she’s capable of putting together a run. Venus is also as competitive as they come, so she’s not going to go down easily. Still, you question how much Venus has left in the tank at this stage of her career. Venus has won five of her last seven matches on hard court.
These two have played six times and Venus has won four of those meetings. The most recent match was in the 2015 Madrid Masters, a match Azarenka won in straight sets. Azarenka has won the last two matches against Venus and five of the six meetings have been decided in straight sets.
I have no idea what to expect from Azarenka when you consider the way she played last season and the fact she hasn’t played in a couple of months. Venus had the luxury of getting three sets out of the way and knocking some of the rust off. That can go a long way to putting together a solid showing here. Then there’s the head to head advantage in Venus’ favor.
I don’t love this match, but I give the edge to Venus.