WTA Auckland: Venus Williams gets first win of 2017

The players came into the second day of the match with a 2-2 scoreline, as the match was postponed to today from yesterday after rain halted play for the rest of the day in the early evening. Jade Lewis, a world number 1099 native wildcard, was faced with an extremely tough draw for her debut WTA main draw match as Venus Williams, the seven-time grand slam champion, was drawn as her opponent.

Although not looking at her top form, it was Williams who sealed up the win in straight sets, despite a very tight first set. Although Lewis put up a good fight in the first set, where she held a set point, the elder of the Williams sisters used her experience to step up her game against the youngster and the home crowd to be victorious.

Williams gets off to slow start

With the match resuming in the fifth game, Williams once again suffered a nervy start, similar to the first day when she had to save break points to hold her service in the first game. There were also break point opportunities for Lewis once again, but however, this time the young New Zealander took her chances and took the lead for the first time in the match. She did not hold the lead for long, though, as the 36-year-old broke to love to prevent Lewis from consolidating the break of service. With that break of service, most would have thought that Williams was slowly getting into the game, but unexpectedly, Lewis came from 30-15 down to break serve once more, proving that it was no fluke. After an exchange of service holds, it was Lewis who had the chance to serve out the set after she failed to win it on the return, despite getting to deuce. On her serve, Lewis saved a break point before finally getting a well-deserved set point. However, she did not take her chances well as the American managed to save it and eventually break to level the set at the last moment. The abundance of service breaks continued as there was another exchange of breaks in the 11th and 12th game, extending the set into a tiebreak to decide the winner. Williams made a great start to the tiebreak, jumping out to a 4-0 lead within a blink of an eye. She did not let the lead slip away from her hands throughout the tiebreak, eventually closing out the tiebreak 7-2.

Lewis in her maiden WTA main draw match | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Lewis in her maiden WTA main draw match | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Williams runs off with victory

With the loss of the first set having wasted one set point, Lewis lost her confidence and focus in the match despite the support from the local crowd. This resulted in a quick break by Williams in the first game of the second set, putting herself in an advantageous situation with a set and a break lead. With the momentum going in her, Williams broke once more to furthermore secure her position in the second round. Williams was a game away from the victory when serving at 5-0, having broken for the third time in the set, but Lewis showed her determination and fighting spirit when she broke Williams’ serve to stay in the match, at least for one more game. Now serving to stay in the match, Lewis faced a match point for Williams but managed to save it and eventually hold her serve to extend the match longer. It proved to just be two consolation games, though, as Williams successfully served out the match comfortably to seal up the match in straight sets.

Williams serving in the match | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Williams serving in the match | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Williams announces withdrawal from tournament

The American, who was visibly having struggles with her serve and lack of power on her shots, turned out to withdraw from her second round blockbuster match against rising star Naomi Osaka which would have taken place later in the day. She announced that she suffered a right arm injury, which also had an impact on her in this match. After the news of her withdrawal was announced, Venus released the following statement,

"I love this tournament and I'm really sad that I have to withdraw, but I'm happy to have had the opportunity to be here again this year”