In an all-seeded battle #9 Venus Williams faces world #20 Kiki Bertens. Williams, though 38, remains an extremely capable player, particularly at Wimbledon where she made the final last year and the semifinal the year before that. Bertens reached a career high ranking of world #15 earlier this year but has struggled at the Majors, making it to the fourth round at a Grand Slam only twice in seven years, and has never made the fourth round at Wimbledon. Who will come out on top?
Surprisingly, these two women have only clashed once in their careers, and that came earlier this year. At the Miami Masters in March it was Williams who got over the line, but she didn’t do so easily, winning through with a 7-5 3-6 7-5 victory. The match was notable for the inability of both players to hold serve with any regularity. Williams was broken seven times in her 17 service games, while things were even worse for Bertens, who was broken in half of her 16 service games.
Path to the third round
Williams’ first two matches at this year’s Wimbledon event have followed remarkably similar patterns. Each time, she has been dropped a close first set before putting her foot down to win the next two easily. In her first match, she faced world #58 Johanna Larsson, who was looking for her first Wimbledon win, but was denied by Williams 6-7 6-2 6-1. She followed that up with a win against world #141 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, triumphing 4-6 6-0 6-1.
Bertens has been more clinical in her victories. She defeated Grand Slam debutant Barbora Stefkova, ranked 717th in the world, with ease 6-3 6-2. Following that, she faced another relatively straightforward match up against another newcomer on the Tour, this time 19-year-old Anna Blinkova of Russia. As in the first round, Bertens encountered few problems, overwhelming the teenager 6-4 6-0 to reach the third round.
How do they match up?
The grass surface at Wimbledon suits Williams far more than it does Bertens, who excels on clay and earlier this season reached the final at the Madrid Open, her first at WTA Premier-level. Williams, standing at 185cm and with the wingspan to match, is an extremely powerful baseline player, and also boasts one of the fastest serves in women’s tennis history. But her defensive skills and agility on the court, though diminished somewhat, also remain impressive.
Bertens, lacking the easy power available to her opponent, relies more on craft. Her forehand is her strength, and being extremely top-spin heavy, is best suited to clay court tennis, although with the hot conditions having hardened the grass courts, it has served her better at this year's Championships than in previous seasons. Bertens covers the court impressively, but will need to be at her best defensively to live with the power of Williams.
Bertens is playing close to the best tennis of her career, but she has made a habit in the past of winning a match or two at Grand Slam events before being bundled out by one of the sport's biggest names. She has never before made it past the third round at Wimbledon, and unfortunately for her that trend will continue here. Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, will be too strong, winning this one in straight sets.