Serena and Venus Williams Set Up Second Round Face-Off at Italian Open
(May 13, 2019) Serena and Venus Williams won their respective first round matches in Rome on Monday and will meet in the second round of the Italian Open. It will be the 31st time that they’ve played each other. Serena leads the series 18-12. It will be their first head-to-head meeting on European clay since 2002, that was the final of the French Open.
Serena began her quest for a fifth Rome title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson on Monday. She needed three sets to beat Peterson at the Miami Open in March. Serena had to withdraw from Miami prior to her third-round match, due to a knee injury.
It’s Serena’s first tournament in Rome since 2016.
Venus, on the hunt for a second trophy at the Italian Open, last won the title in 1999. The 38-year-old veteran needed nine match points to Elise Mertens of Belgium 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) after more than three hours.
“It was a very long match,” Venus said during her news conference. “I couldn’t really tell when or how it was going to end, was happy it did.”
“It’s been a while. I haven’t played a ton of matches this year,” Serena said after the match. “Not my choice, just by force. I really, really actually desperately wanted to be on the tour and to be playing. It felt good to finally be back out. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it up.”
“Seems like every tournament nowadays we meet early. It is what it is,” the 23-time major champion added.
Other ladies advancing included Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta, Annett Kontaveit, Victoria Azarenka, Lucky Loser Amanda Anisimova, Sofia Kenin, Viktoria Kuzmova, Dominika Cibulkova and Katerina Siniakova.
In men’s play, Borna Coric won the battle between young players on the tour. The Croatian beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4. Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas upset Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-1, Denis Shapovalov beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 7-6(5) and Karen Khachanov beat Italian wild card Lorenzo Sonego as well as the crowd 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-3.
Last year’s surprise French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato had the home crowd cheer him on to a win over Alex Di Minaur 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.