WTA Yarra Valley Classic Day 1 Predictions Including Venus Williams vs Arantxa Rus

Venus Williams in action ahead of the WTA Yarra Valley Classic
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The preparations for the fast approaching Australian Open will get underway in earnest in Melbourne this week, with warm-up tournaments to be held at Melbourne Park. Every player in the field will surely be desperate to get some matches under their belt before the first Grand Slam of the season and, as ever, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions. But who will book their place in the second round at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic?

WTA Yarra Valley Classic Day One Predictions

Viktoria Kuzmova vs Daria Gavrilova

Head-to-head: Kuzmova 1-0 Gavrilova

Still just 22-years-old, Viktoria Kuzmova looks to have a bright future ahead of her, but the Slovakian has not yet proven herself a consistent performer at the highest level. There is no doubt that she has talent, her career-high ranking of world #43 attests to that, but she currently finds herself ranked 98th in the world after a disappointing 2020. Indeed, she arrives at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic having lost her last six matches. If she is to preserve her top 100 status, she will need to find some wins.

Daria Gavrilova, meanwhile, has scored some fine wins since making her return from injury during the abbreviated clay-court season last year. That includes a 6-4 6-3 upset of 24th seed Dayana Yastremska in the first round at the French Open. Back in conditions she is more comfortable, with the support of the crowd providing a welcome lift, the Australian will surely be targeting a successful few weeks. Expect her to get off to a winning start against the struggling Slovakian.

Prediction: Gavrilova in 3
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Ysaline Bonaventure vs Danielle Collins

Head-to-head: first meeting

This is a match that Danielle Collins should be winning. The former-NCAA champion has not quite fulfilled the promise she showed during her thrilling run to the Australian Open semifinals in 2019, despite an impressive quarterfinal showing in Paris last season, but she has established herself as a reliable top 50 performer. Ysaline Bonaventure, in contrast, has yet to break into the world’s top 100, with the Belgian’s career-high ranking world #109.

She has been making progress towards becoming a more regular presence on the main WTA Tour over the last 18 months and played well during in the first two rounds at the Australian Open qualifying tournament, only to fall at the final hurdle. Nonetheless, if Collins is able to find anything close to her best tennis, there is little to suggest that Bonaventure will be able to match the American blow for blow. Expect Collins to start her 2021 season with a win.

Prediction: Collins in 2
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Ana Bogdan vs Kamilla Rakhimova

Head-to-head: first meeting

Kamilla Rakhimova is one of several teenagers looking likely to have a bright future in the women’s game, even if her achievements are unlikely to match those of some of her peers who have already established themselves at the top of the sport. The Russian may well like her chances of upsetting Ana Bogdan, who has been in rather indifferent form of late.

In truth, there looks to be relatively little between this pair on paper, but Rakhimova did reach the third round of the Australian Open qualifying and should be match sharp as a result. Bogdan, meanwhile, has not played competitively since losing in the first round of qualifying in Ostrava. Expect Rakhimova to take advantage of the Romanian’s rustiness.

Prediction: Rakhimova in 3
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Arantxa Rus vs Venus Williams

Head-to-head: Williams 1-0 Rus

One can never be quite sure what to expect from Venus Williams. Clearly the eight-time Grand Slam champion, who turned 40 last June, is not the force she once was, but she has, at times, proven herself capable of summoning the old magic. The relatively fast conditions usually offered by the courts at Melbourne Park should also suit her first strike brand of tennis, with the American’s serve and groundstrokes still formidable weapons when she is timing the ball well.

Arantxa Rus will also presumably feel at home in Melbourne, having won the girl’s singles title at the Australian Open in 2008. She has never managed to make a similar impact in the professional ranks, but Rus has carved out a solid career and she will not make things easy for the great American. Ultimately, however, although Rus’ game has no glaring weaknesses, she also lacks any real weapons. Williams, who tends to be at her best on the big stage, should be able to dictate terms as a result.

Prediction: Williams in 3

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