Rob York wrote an article describing the difficulties that Venus Williams will face in the later part of her career. She is one of the greatest grass court players on the women's side, and her last few years have been a testimony to that. Her performance on other surfaces, though, has not been impressive.
Since the Australian Open in 2003, she is yet to reach a Grand Slam final outside of Wimbledon, and has only one Semi Final appearance in the other three Grand Slams since 2004.
The courts at U.S. Open are the her next best bet for a major title, as the quickness of the surface suits her style of play. She may not have made the second sunday at the Open since 2002 but her performances in the last two years were still impressive as she lost to the eventual champions, Justine Henin in 2007, and Serena Williams in 2008. The quarter finals against Serena was a high quality thriller which ended in two close tie-breaks.
This year, after initial hiccups in the first round, she breezed away in the second round, looking far more comfortable. She will face Kim Clijsters in the third, who has enjoyed a dream comeback after two years of sabbatical.
The WTA expert, Sudeshna Banerjee discusses Kim's chances against the big sister.
Will Win If
Venus' serve is lethal, when on. She holds the top four positions for the fastest serve, and three of them have come at this surface. Her fastest serve clocked at 129 mph in 2007, which is something that even players in ATP cannot dream of!
The serve will give her a lot of cheap points, and would be helpful in averting any danger on the break points. Since her comeback, Kim has not faced a big server who does not double fault consistently, so Venus will have a big advantage.
If Venus is to win, she needs to serve higher than 60 percent.
Will lose if
Her left knee injury was a big issue in the opening match. She looked more comfortable in the second, but the problem is still there. The Belgian is a perfect player who can utilize her current weakness with her variety in her game.
Her slice backhands, and drop shots are something which will definitely trouble Venus. It Kim does that consistently well, the wounds may open up. Venus has not disclosed the severity of her injury, so this is mere speculation.
Of course, Kim is a smart tactician, who can change her game plan during the course of the match. Venus needs to be absolutely prepared.
Venus' flat ground strokes vent venom at this surface and her movement at this surface is sharp—though not as sharp as that on grass.
Her return of serve is always good and can be effective on Kim's relatively weak second serves. Of course, nobody can fault Venus' mental strength, especially when her opponent is not her younger sister.
Shots to watch out for
Venus' canon balls and two handed backhand volleys.
This promises to be the highlight of the U.S. Open as two versatile players with equally good fighting abilities take the center stage. The match will definitely go to the wire and it will depend on who wilts last. Venus prevailing with a 7-5 score in the third.
Q. The two great marquee stars tonight on Arthur Ashe Stadium, yourself and Rafa, both have had issues with knees. What do you think that says?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That we had issues with knees.