This was very much a hardcourt match. And what a struggle. Vika came ahead multiple times only to let Venus back in. Good thing she took that tiebreak. Second set she had some more room to breath and after a hard contested game at 4-2 (9 deuce or something?) Vika closed the deal.
Same old same old, too many errors and the serve deserted her at important moments. She had a set point and really could have taken the tiebreak after fighting back but just overhit on some big points. She desperately needs matchplay again to remember how to get through those tight moments because she’s right there (in many of her losses the past year, often wiht a SP or MP). And still playing great when her back is against the wall. Praying for her to draw Harmony Tan R1 in Paris.
Vika still quite solid except for a few service woes. Still, she managed to get out of trouble most times (from 0-30, etc.) with some errors from Vee, and her movement is looking as good as it ever did on clay. Impressive match. I was surprised how pumped she was after already exceeding all expectations in the states. Bouncing around to return serve, swearing quite a lot (she got a code at one point) lol, she really wanted this.
It's so weird watching this slow ass clay court after several weeks of US Open speedy courts.
Absolutely insane how things have changed since Lexington . I'm still confused why Vika is playing here but a win is a win and improving this head-to-head record (one of her worst) is always nice . They also exchanged some nice words at the net at the end (I think Venus was congratulating her but not sure). Vika looked fit but I think mentally tired because she blew many leads in the first set, and then also lost a break in the second although rebounded by coming through a nine deuce game.
I think she has chances to beat Kenin but at some point her tank is going to run out. It's also hard to judge how she's playing on this slow ass clay and Kenin did have a good Roland Garros last year so that could help the American. Anyway, so much respect for Vika once again for showing up here!
I still don't understand how this all can be enjoyable for Venus but she stays out there making a good effort. Nothing but respect!
Quite impressive match for both. Sad that one had to lose. These two have nothing to prove and yet they were fighting like it was a slam match. Considering how uninterested some players looked yesterday (i.e. Kerber and Sloane), it was refreshing to see 2 players going for every single point.
Surprised by Azarenka's mindset. She looked a tad frail losing so many leads, but kept going. I think she mostly wants to get clay practice ahead of the FO than anything.
Good for her to keep going and she definitely has the form to go deep here, just hope she stays healthy and doesn't overplay. But in the past, playing week in week out used to be the norm and Azarenka has shown in 2012 that she's not prone to suffer from post-slam slumps even though she didn't win it this time. Tough draw for Venus but she also could've done a bit better.
That first set took a lot out of Venus, she ran out of gas in that second set.
I didn't think either played particularly well but definitely match play was the difference here, Vika was more clutch when it mattered and it showed, particularly in the tiebreak.
Venus desperately needs a good draw to get something going. Ever since the restart, it's been quite brutal for her drawing Vika and then three top 30 players in a row (Yastremska - Muchova - Azarenka).
I stopped watching the second the tiebreak ended. Sadly I have the feeling that Venus may never win a three set match again, and it was especially damning that the first set was as long as it could possibly have been. She did play mostly quite a good first set though, so I was positively surprised and definitely sad that she wasn't able to take it.
I have to echo the comments saying that she can't complain too much about her draws, though. I mean, she has been screwed several times, but I was watching her play those internationals early in the year where she was beating herself with double faults and lacking fitness against the likes of Juvan. She hasn't had those kinds of draws since the end of the COVID break, but she certainly wasn't taking advantage before. I'll hope for a nice draw for her in Paris, but I still won't be shocked if she's dumped out in round 1.