Wimbledon first round preview: Venus Williams vs Donna Vekic

The eighth seed Venus Williams will play Donna Vekic in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships. The season's third Grand Slam event is held on the historic grass courts of the All England Club in London, UK.

Background

Williams has struggled to win back-to-back matches in tournaments this year, doing so only in winning her 49th career title in Kaohsiung and reaching the fourth round of the French Open. As always, the American skipped all grass court tournaments ahead of Wimbledon and will hope to benefit from her promotion to eighth seed given the withdrawal of Victoria Azarenka.

A five-time Wimbledon champion, the recently turned 36-year-old, uses her famously quick serve and six-foot one-inch frame to intimidate her opponents on this surface. In the last two years, the world number nine has lost only to the eventual champion at this tournament and despite her lack of preparation, understands this unique surface better than most.

Vekic shows her frustration . Source: Getty Images/Jon Buckle

Despite great expectations in recent years, Vekic has suffered a terrible run of results this season. The Croat has won only two main draw matches at WTA level events, losing her last eight stretching back to February. Though the 19-year-old showed clear promise on the grass courts when she reached the Birmingham final in 2013, this year she’s failed to win a match on the surface outside of the ITF circuit, failing to qualify in either Birmingham or Eastbourne.

An aggressive player with flat, rhythmical groundstrokes, Vekic was once expected to be a future champion. In 2014, the teenager claimed her first career title in Kuala Lumpur, beating the top 10 ranked Dominika Cibulkova in the final and looked destined to improve on her career high of number 62. However, it appears as if the expectations have taken their toll on Vekic who now finds herself ranked at a lowly 112 in the world.

Head-to-Head

Williams and Vekic have never played before. Given the seismic difference between the two players in terms of experience, the seven-time Grand Slam champion is a huge favourite coming into this match. The former world number one has only lost two first round matches in 18 attempts at Wimbledon and will look to dominate her un-confident opponent from the outset. Given the fact that Vekic has lost in the first round eight times in 12 attempts at the majors, she will have to hope that her opponent has a serious off day in order to progress.

Prediction: Venus Williams in straight sets

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