In a battle of former world number ones, Venus Williams the seven-time Grand Slam champion overcame Victoria Azarenka in an enthralling three set affair 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, at the WTA ASB Classic on Tuesday.
In a match that panned out over 2 hours, the American needed to dig deep to come out on top and register her first victory over the two-time Australian Open winner in five years.
“Tonight was not easy, maybe one of the toughest first rounds I’ve ever played,” Venus Williams said during her on-court interview after the match. “She has the experience, and for the first match of the year…my goal was to get past this first round, and we need these matches going into the Australian (Open).
“I’m hoping that the next round will be fruitful for me, and I already got a goal for 2019”, said Venus Williams. And although it was Venus Williams who got on to the right foot in the match, the Belarusian did find her zone and fought her way into a good position after dropping the first five of the six games in the match.
Venus Williams came out strong in the first set, breaking Azarenka twice to accumulate a 5-1 lead in the first set. From there, it did look like Williams had it under her control, however Victoria Azarenka had other ideas.
Azarenka came alive in the second set, finding her spots on her serve, raining down aces and saving all of the seven break points that she faced during the set, and twice built a break lead in the deciding set.
However, a key sixth game in the third set helped Venus Williams to get back on track, as she broke from a 40-0 down deficit, and the veteran closed out the match to book her spot in the second round where she will face another Auckland Champion- Lauren Davis.
Azarenka, meanwhile was not happy enough with her performance, and said that she lacked consistency in the important moments. “She stayed more consistent today and took her chances when I didn’t,” said Azarenka.
Epic!@venuseswilliams comes out on top in the battle of the former World No.1s!
— WTA (@WTA) January 1, 2019
“I think there was a lot of battle games in the first set, second set, breaks and stuff, but she did take her opportunities and I didn’t”, continued Azarenka. “Overall, it was a pretty good match, but obviously sitting here is disappointing, knowing that I could have won that match, with all the opportunities that I created.”
“I didn’t take my opportunities,” she said. “I didn’t go enough for my shots, there were mistakes that were the top of the tape or a little bit wide. Not huge mistakes but they cost me the match.”
“I need to work on that, clean that up and put things together from practice, put it in the match, because everything is there, it’s just being able to put all of the things together, it takes time sometimes.”