Venus Williams outlasts Victoria Azarenka in Auckland opener

Florida: American tennis star Venus Williams outlasted Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling first-round match at the ASB Classic in Auckland on Tuesday.

After surviving a scare, the number six seed had to dig deeper in the match that lasted over two hours to register her first win 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 over the two-time Australian Open champion.

“Tonight was not easy, maybe one of the toughest first rounds I have ever played. She (Azarenka) 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 am hoping that the next round will be fruitful for me, and I already got a goal for 2019,” Women’s Tennis Association quoted Williams, as saying.

“I would say that my first serve percentage dropped a lot, and she made fewer errors. Both of us, our ranking is not as high, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t play, regardless of whatever the ranking is,” she added.

In a match between two former world number one, the seven-time Grand Slam champion hardly broke a sweat to seal the opening set. The Belarusian slowly worked her way into a leading position in the second set, where she served six of her nine aces and saved all seven break points she faced and twice built a break lead in the decider.

However, a key sixth game helped the American to make a comeback and Williams booked her spot in the second round where she will face American compatriot Lauren Davis.

“Honestly, in the first match, you just want to get a rhythm. This is the second year in a row that I played a former number one in the world in the first match. At the end of the day, you just get your mind ready, and you get out there and say that I’m here to play tennis and I am just here to perform,” Williams added.

“Lauren Davis is very talented and she had an amazing summer here. It is going to be a match well-contested. I have a lot of respect for her and for her game. I will be going out there and preparing, and hopefully get another win,” she concluded.