‘This should give Serena Williams some rhythm where…’, says top coach

All the spotlight at the Western&Southern Open in Cincinnati will inevitably be on Serena Williams, who will hang up her racket at the end of the US Open and who is obviously preparing in Ohio for the penultimate dance of an unprecedented career, after the misstep against Belinda Bencic in Canada and the official victory -after 430 days- against Nuna Parrisaz-Diaz in her debut. The American champion will face New York Slam defending champion Emma Raducanu in the first round, who is presumably still struggling with herself given her results over the last twelve months and the pressure that continues to weigh on her since her unthinkable success at Flushing Meadows. All eyes on the draw side are on Viktoria Azarenka, called first and foremost to break down Kaia Kanepi’s resistance in the first round. A not trivial debut also for the number one in the world, Iga Swiatek, who after thirty-seven consecutive victories has lost three of her last six matches. The last one, in Canada, against Beatriz Haddad Maia, who will at least play the semifinals. For the Pole it is Sloane Stephens or Alize Cornet, both players perfectly capable of carrying the weight of the most prestigious stages of the circuit. Needless to say, it was the Frenchwoman’s turn to put an end to Swiatek’s historic record of success on the Championship turf. The lower part of the field was decidedly more crowded, with the ‘extra’ presence of Venus Williams, rewarded by the organizers with a wild card and on a collision course with Karolina Pliskova, who is still on the hunt for success in Canada.

Annacone talks about Serena

Andy Roddick said that Serena Williams played well against Belinda Bencic in the second round of the Canadian Open in Toronto. “I actually thought Serena was hitting the ball pretty well against Belinda Bencic, I know she lost and the score-line was pretty straight forward. I think the fact that she’ll have a little bit more time against Raducanu. Raducanu is not gonna come out and hit flat inside the court, switch directions like Bencic was (doing) and kind of bully Serena’s movement,’’ he observed. Paul Annacone aligned with Roddick’s views: “Ya, a few matches would be great to get under the belt and against someone like Raducanu. She doesn’t have the fire power, like Andy said, that can hit her off the court, she doesn’t take the ball early like Bencic does to steal Serena’s time, so this should give Serena some rhythm where she can dictate what’s going on,” agreed Annacone.