Former US Open champion and 16th seed Venus Williams hasn’t won in New York for 17 years and hasn’t won any Grand Slam in over ten. But as she showed with a semifinal performance here last year, she is still a major threat. Standing between her and the third round is Camila Giorgi of Italy, the world #40. Fresh off a career-best quarterfinal effort at Wimbledon, her game is in good shape and she will feel confident that she can challenge Williams. Who will come out on top?
These two have only clashed once previously. That match was contested in the third round of the Australian Open in 2015. Williams came into the match as the 18th seed, Giorgi after having upset her 12th seeded compatriot Flavia Pennetta. She almost managed to repeat the feat against Williams. But after dropping the first set 4-6, Williams managed to snare the second in a tiebreaker, before running away with it in the third to win 4-6 7-6 6-1.
Last time out
Williams started off her US Open with a difficult match, coming up against 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who also won the title in Washington earlier this month, in the first round. After taking the first set, Williams looked to be in pole position up 4-1 in the second only Kuznetsova to fight back to take it to a decider. But Williams hung tough there to win 6-3 5-7 6-3 after nearly three hours.
Giorgi had it a little easier, coming up against the 16-year-old world #391 Whitney Osuigwe, a former junior world #1 and Girls' French Open champion. But though highly talented, Osuigwe was ultimately no match for the far more experienced Giorgi. The Italian was able to advance through to the second round in just over an hour with a 6-4 6-1 win having given Osuigwe something of a lesson in the challenges of Grand Slam tennis.
How do they match up?
Williams, standing 185cm tall, boasts a powerful all around game, and is capable of hitting big winners with both her backhand and forehand. Indeed, whilst it is usually her forehand that does the majority of damage to her opponents, she used her backhand, particularly down the line, to great effect against Kuznetsova in the first round. She also has one of the best serves on Tour and with her big wingspan and soft hands is an excellent volleyer.
Giorgi possesses a similarly aggressive and powerful style and expect both women to attempt to play from inside the baseline wherever possible. Where Giorgi’s game often falls down, however, and where Williams has a major advantage, is in its consistency. While her best is able to match it with the best players on Tour, Giorgi is also more than capable of putting in performances far below her usual standard and unforced errors remain her Achilles' heel.
This should be an entertaining match up between two players who will try to dominate from the back of the court. At 38 years old, Williams may be past her best, but she is still a superb player and a real crowd favourite in New York where her star shines even brighter than Serena's. With her greater experience and ability to control her power, she should be able to get over the line. Expect a straight sets Williams win.