1999 Rome champion Venus Williams got her Internazionali BNL d'Italia campaign off to a winning start in a tightly-contested 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe. Williams secured only her second win on clay all season, after winning in her opening match in Charleston as well.
Williams fights through close first set
With two big servers of women's tennis going at it, there were bound to be few breaks in the match, something that proved true throughout the opening set. Williams began the match fending off one break point, eventually holding in a long deuce game. From there, neither play held a single break point for the next six games, with each player holding easily to bring the score to 4-3 in favor of the former champion.
The elder American then played a beautiful return game to break Vandeweghe, setting up a chance to serve for the set. In the ninth game of the set, Vandeweghe upped her level to claw her way back, breaking Williams back to bring the match back on serve. With Vandeweghe serving to level the match at 5-all, the 12th seeded Williams upped her game once again to break the world number 40's serve and take the opening set 6-4.
Williams closes out win in second
In a similar opening to the first set, the 12th seed was forced to fight off break points to hold to open the set. Both players then exchanged holds, before backhand errors continued to plague Vandeweghe, ending in another Williams break. The 1999 champion then held to love to consolidate the break, followed by her younger American opponent doing the same. The seven-time major winner kept up her prowess on serve, holding to love again to go up 5-2. Vandeweghe held to delay a Williams win, but she could not deny the inevitable with the former champion serving out the match on her first chance to take it 6-4, 6-3.
Williams behind the numbers
Williams struggled at times on serve, only hitting one ace with four double faults. While the 12th seed did only make 52 percent of first serves, the elder American did make her first deliveries count, winning an impressive 82 percent of first service points. On the second serve, Williams was solid as well, making 55 percent compare to only 48 from her younger opponent.
The former French Open finalist fought off break points well, saving 80 percent of break chances against her. Despite having only played two clay court matches before this all year, Williams seemed at home on the dirt, using her big serve to her advantage in her opening match at the Foro Italico. Williams will next play either a qualifier or big hitting Hungarian Timea Babos.