Venus Williams handed unforgiving draw for Cincinnati

Venus Williams in action
A delighted Venus Williams

Venus Williams won’t be praising the tennis gods at all after she was handed an unforgiving draw for Cincinnati’s Western and Southern Open WTA 1000 event.

Williams will have to take on 16th seed and world No 13 Veronica Kudermetova in the opening round after she was handed a wildcard into the main draw.

That draw presented her with the challenge of facing a former world no 2 and a player who has reached two WTA 1000 semi-finals this season.

Of course Williams has a pedigree that far surpasses that of Kudermetova, but it is clear that the 26-year-old Russian has the potential to still achieve a lot more with her career.

Williams probably won’t sweat a loss to a player of Kudermetova’s class but might have hoped for a kinder draw.

Another first round clash that has piqued the interest of fans already is the meeting between the returning Caroline Wozniacki and in-form Elina Svitolina.

The top eight seeds all have first-round byes in the 56-player draw event that coincides with an ATP 1000 tournament in the same venue across the two weeks.

In Williams’ section, World No 1 Iga Swiatek tops the draw.

Swiatek could possibly have a quick rematch with Danielle Collins in the second round if Collins can oust Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round.

On Friday night, Swiatek scored a tough three-set win over Collins in the Montreal quarterfinals.

Caroline Garcia, the reigning champion, is also drawn in the top quarter.

Sloane Stephens or Elisabetta Cocciaretto will be Garcia’s first opponent in her title defence.

In the third round, Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova could be the player that awaits Garcia in a tough draw for the returning champion.

The second quarter is headed up by Elena Rybakina, who will play either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko in the second round. Belinda Bencic, the No 13 seed, and Rybakina will cross paths in the Round of 16 if both players reach that stage.

The No 7 seed Coco Gauff and No 9 seed Petra Kvitova are both in this stacked quarter as well and if the seedings hold, they will play each other in the Round of 16. If both players win their first outings, a second round matchup between Montreal quarter-finalist Liudmila Samsonova and last year’s Cincy runner-up Petra Kvitova will go down.

Jessica Pegula, the third-seeded player for the draw, heads up the third quarter of the draw. The top-ranked American faces potential competition from No 8 Maria Sakkari, No 12 Beatriz Haddad Maia, and No 15 Madison Keys on her path to the latter stages.

The Western and Southern Open’s fourth quarter is anchored by world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, who will face either Magda Linette or a qualifier in the second round to start her bid for another WTA 100o title.

Fifth seed Ons Jabeur and 11th seed Barbora Krejcikova are also in the bottom quarter.

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