Citi Open: Venus Williams departs after a two-hour-plus opener; Simona Halep wins

Venus Williams’ comeback to the tour ended in a first-round defeat at the hands of Rebecca Marino at the Citi Open on Monday. The Canadian qualifier came from a set down to defeat the former world no. 1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes.

The 41-year-old Williams was playing her first event in almost a year – she hadn’t played since the Chicago Open held in the last week of August 2021 – and despite the obvious lack of match practice did well to go up a set in the match. But she wasn’t able to sustain her rhythm as the match progressed further.

In the second set, Williams could win only 11% of her second-serve points while in the third set, she finished with 29%. Thus, while in the deciding set, Williams and Marino were almost evenly matched in terms of winning points off their first serves – Marino won 81% to Williams’ 85% – her second serves let the seven-time Major champion down severely.

In the second round, Marino will play either Andrea Petkovic or eighth seed, Clara Tauson.

Citi Open: Seeds’ mixed day 

There were a couple of seeded players who crashed out in the first round.

Liudmila Samsonova posted an upset over fifth seed Elise Mertens in their round-of-32 clash. Samsonova won 7-6(4), 6-4 in two hours and four minutes and will play either Ajla Tomljanovic or Sloane Stephens next.

Donna Vekic ousted the seventh-seeded Mayar Sherif 6-4, 6-1 in their opener in 75 minutes. The Croatian awaits either qualifier Xinyu Wang or Tatjana Maria in the second round.

Sixth seed Kaia Kanepi moved into the round-of-16 with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Greet Minnen. The Estonian will play Lin Zhu next. The Chinese beat Briton Heather Dart, 6-4, 6-3 in their opener.

Daria Saville posted a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Swedish qualifier, Mirjam Bjorklund. The Australian will take on top seed Jessica Pegula, who’s also defending her title this week, for a chance to reach the quarters. The American defeated wildcard Hailey Baptiste, in an American derby, 6-2, 6-2.

Lastly, third seed Simona Halep also took her place in the second round of the Citi Open. The former world no. 1 got past Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa, 6-3, 7-5 and could play either Madison Brengle or Anna Kalinskaya next. 

Photo Credit: Citi Open Twitter