2020 Australian Open first round preview: Venus Williams vs Cori Gauff
Photo: Tim Ireland

The blockbuster match of the first round of the Australian Open will take place between 39-year old Venus Williams and 15-year old Cori Gauff on Margaret Court Arena.

Meeting for the second time in the last three majors, the present and future of American tennis meet for a spot in the second round against either Sorana Cirstea or 32nd seed Barbora Strycova.

Williams is playing her first match since October/Photo:
Williams is playing her first match since October/Photo: Xinhua/Xiong Qi

Williams looks to kickstart season after early tournament withdrawls

The seven-time major champion was scheduled to begin her season in Brisbane, but withdrew before the tournament began for undisclosed reasons. She then accepted a wild card into Adelaide, where she again withdrew before play started, this time with a shoulder injury. This match will mark her first since Tianjin in October.

Gauff looking to carry late 2019 form into 2020

For the 15-year old, she is seeking a continuation of the play she exhibited at the end of last season, when she took home her first career title in Linz as well as doubles crowns in Washington and Luxembourg. Gauff has played one tournament in 2020, reaching the second round in Auckland, losing to Laura Siegemund.

Head-to-head

This is the second career meeting between Williams and Gauff, with the only prior matchup the now-famous first round encounter at Wimbledon, won by the teenager 6-4, 6-4.

Gauff's rise to stardom began when she took down Williams last year/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Gauff's rise to stardom began when she took down Williams last year/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Who will win?

It's hard to go against Gauff in this spot. She's playing well, can match or even have greater power than Williams and she will feast on the second serve of the 39-year old. That being said, Venus knows this is a chance for her to make a statement by turning back one of the tour's new young stars.

Her competitiveness and pride alone will make this a closer match than the one at Wimbledon, where Gauff never felt the pressure. Here, with expectations of victory, she won't be sneaking up on Williams.

One key for Venus is to try and shorten points by coming to net, somewhat neutralizing Gauff's fierce baseline game. In the end, this will be an exciting match to watch with likely the same winner as we had at the All-England Club. 

Prediction: Gauff in three sets

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