Australian Open: Serena Williams to play Tamara Zidansek for the first time

Serena Williams in the first round of the Australian Open (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Serena Williams in the first round of the Australian Open (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) /

After a strong start to her Australian Open campaign, Serena Williams will play a new opponent in round 2 when she takes on Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.

Serena Williams made a start to her Australian Open campaign that could not have gone much better with her emphatic first-round win over Anastasia Potapova.

Now safely through to round 2, Serena has begun her preparations to take on Tamara Zidansek, a player the American is yet to face on the WTA Tour.

Serena comfortably dispatched Russian Potapova in 58 minutes at Rod Laver Arena on Monday, triumphing 6-0 6-3.

A ruthless return in game two gave her an immediate break and, after just 19 minutes, the first set was already wrapped up.

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Potapova put up more of a fight in the second set, but Serena completed the win with an emphatic ace, a muted fist pump at the finish indicating she knows there are much tougher tests to come if she is to secure a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title.

Serena converted 5 of her 6 break points and had a total of 24 winners that included 9 aces.

She had 16 unforced errors and was broken once, though Potapova was only afforded three break-point opportunities in the contest.

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Potapova’s second serve was punished, with Serena winning 16 of those 21 points.

Tamara Zidansek up next for Serena Williams

Zidansek also had a straight sets first-round win, triumphing 6-3 6-3 against South Korean wild card Han Na-lae.

Her 67-minute victory saw her take advantage of a messy display from Han, who had 31 unforced errors to just 11 winners. Zidansek, meanwhile, had 15 winners and 20 unforced errors.

In an unspectacular encounter, there were nine breaks of serve in total, three from Han and six from Zidansek.

Zidansek is from Slovenia and sits at number 70 in the WTA world rankings. Her career-high of 56 was reached last July and she first broke into the top 100 in June 2018, a status she has retained ever since.

The 22-year-old is yet to win a full WTA Tour title and reaching the second round in the 2020 Australian Open matches her best Grand Slam performance, also achieved in Melbourne last year, as well as at Wimbledon, where she beat Eugenie Bouchard in the first round.

With Serena a veteran of 23 singles majors and on an impressive roll after claiming her 73rd overall title at the ASB Classic earlier this month, the contrast is huge.

While Zidansek has more experience than the 18-year-old Potapova, who Serena had also never played before their first-round clash, she has little pedigree at the highest level and last made a WTA Tour quarterfinal in May 2019.

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It will come as a major surprise if Serena Williams does not achieve another comfortable victory as her record pursuit continues.