Venus Williams made her return to the Hong Kong Tennis Open in the best possible way after she ousted Risa Ozaki in straight sets with a relatively easy scoreline, 6-2, 6-2. The legendary American was able to seal the win in 75 minutes, and she looked in great form especially with her serve looking incredible, losing just six points behind her first serves.
In her post-match on-court interview, Williams mentioned that “Of course I remember the first time I came to play in Hong Kong. I love the city and the tournament organisers are amazing. I’ve made a lot of friends here over the years and it’s great to revisit a place with so many familiar faces!” Certainly, Venus has some fond memories of Hong Kong, with her best result being a semifinal finish back in 2015.
Williams jumps out to an early lead
Uncharacteristically, Williams managed to make a fast start to the match as she did not feel the rust despite having not played since her US Open semifinal appearance. The legendary American broke serve in the opening game before easily consolidating the break for an early 2-0 lead. With Williams’ career achievements being listed all out during the warm-up, Ozaki would undoubtedly feel the pressure of playing such a top player as her early jitters were soon reflected on the scoreboard, with the Australian Open and Wimbledon finalist surviving a marathon 16-point game for a double-break advantage.
Williams holds on to clinch the first set
The timely changeover seemed to have helped the Japanese to regain her composure as she managed to get on the scoreboard with a break of service, lessening the deficit. Ozaki followed it up with a love service hold, but Williams was able to maintain composed as she regained a double-break lead and placed herself just one game away from sealing the set at 5-2 up. The underdog then took a medical time-out for what could be a lower back injury, but the long break did not affect the experienced veteran as Williams ultimately closed out the first set 6-2.
Ozaki overcomes slow start in the second set
Carrying over the momentum from the first set, Williams made the best possible start to the second set as she managed to break serve in the first game, opening up the early lead. Another win in front of the Hong Kong crowd seemed to be highly possible when the American consolidated the break for a two-game advantage.
Ozaki did not falter even at the nerviest moments, fending off a break point in the third game to narrowly hold her serve for a 1-2 deficit. Williams then played a very loose service game which saw her throw in consecutive unforced errors, allowing Ozaki to come out of nowhere to return on serve.
Williams gains the lead and takes the win
However, it was a similar storyline as compared to the first set as Williams stormed through the next three games to a formidable 5-2 lead, breaking serve twice in the process. Serving for the match, the US Open semifinalist struggled with her serve as she conceded two break point opportunities. Nonetheless, Williams was able to come up with her best first serves at the crucial moments, successfully serving out the match in just an hour and 15 minutes of play.