US Open first round preview: Karolina Muchova vs Venus Williams
Williams will be making a 22nd appearance at the US Open (Image: Matthew Stockman)

An intriguing opening round clash pits talented world number 26 and 20th seed Karolina Muchova take on two-time US Open champion Venus Williams for a place in the second round in New York.

It has been twenty years since Williams, who turned 40 earlier this year, won her first of seven Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows and after a slow start to 2020 the American has shown some encouraging signs since the restart. The world number 65 crushed Victoria Azarenka in the opening round of the Top Seed Open in Lexington before falling to sister Serena in a tight contest, and also looked competitive in a loss to Dayana Yastremska at the Western & Southern Open this week.

Muchova has been one of the most improved players on tour in the past couple of seasons, having reached a career high of 21st at the end of last season, though also started 2020 slowly. The Czech has only played once since the restart, falling to Naomi Osaka in three sets this week, though showed enough in that match to suggest she could cause trouble for whoever she faces this coming fortnight.

Muchova is seeded 21st in New York (Image: Matthew Stockman)
Muchova is seeded 21st in New York (Image: Matthew Stockman)

This match will start the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday, with the winner facing Anna Kalinskaya or Nina Stojanovic in the second round. 

Analysis

Williams impressed many with the new service motion that she displayed against Azarenka in Lexington a fortnight ago, though her serve was not quite as consistent in her next matches against Serena and Yastremska. The two-time champion will be hoping for a strong performance on serve to pick up several cheap points and to dictate play on her own serve as much as possible, whilst Muchova will be hoping for several opportunities to attack on the American’s second serve.

Whilst Williams is known for her aggressive style of play, Muchova tends to bring a little more variety onto court. The Czech can dictate quite effectively with her groundstrokes but will also likely use her slice to try and push Williams around the court and open the court up to win points easily, though must be careful when doing this; the American is still a relatively good mover around the court and will take some putting away in longer rallies.

Williams' serve will be a key factor in this match (Image: Dylan Buell)
Williams' serve will be a key factor in this match (Image: Dylan Buell)

However, Muchova is also a very strong mover and will also look to defend well and force errors out of Williams, who has a high-risk game. Perhaps the key aspect of this contest will be who will be able to wear down the other the most and claim the longer rallies throughout the match. 

Assessment

This is a tough match to call. Williams is certainly the more powerful of the two and may be able to dictate play more often, but Muchova arguably has more variety in her game and may have more success in longer rallies. It could go either way but considering how encouraging some of her tennis has been since the restart, it looks like Williams could prevail in this encounter

Prediction: Venus Williams in three sets

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