Friday night (September 2; time TBD) in New York, Serena Williams takes on Ajla Tomljanović, in hopes of not only reaching the round of 16, extending her legendary career by at least one more match.
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Serena Williams vs Ajla Tomljanović preview and prediction
Sometimes the world just gets things right.
In fairness, what happened Wednesday night in New York is less a product of serendipity than of raw, unadulterated superstardom and greatness. Serena Williams, at age 40, walking into Arthur Ashe Stadium for what might be her professional tennis swan song, and defeating 27-year-old Montenegrin Danka Kovinić in straight sets didn’t feel surprising. Of course it didn’t. Now, it probably should have given that, again, Serena is less than four weeks from her 41st birthday. Of course that’s the standard that Serena has set for herself, and the one to which we can’t help but hold her. It’s the byproduct of a ridiculous 23 Grand Slam singles titles (seven apiece at the Australian and Wimbledon, six at the U.S. Open, and three at the French), and another 14 in doubles (which she is playing again this year) with her sister Venus. Had Serena’s iconic career come to a close her next time out, on Wednesday night, against the #2 seed, 26-year-old Estonian Anett Kontaveit, she’d have written a fitting final chapter.
Had Serena returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium and simply won the opening set, she’d have perfectly punctuated her incredible career. That she did not only that but, after dropping the second set 6-2, rallied to a 6-2 of her own in the final set, before a positively mesmerized, mesmerizing could-only-be-New-York crowd, and extended this final chapter for at least one more page
is a delight.
Now, she returns for a third go-round, this time against the world’s top ranked Australian women, Ajla Tomljanović, as not only a generational legend saying farewell, but as a favorite (7/10 with Betway) potentially penning the most genuinely incredible of stories (which Sky Bet prices at 16/1). It is, well, peak Serena. At this point, this match defies traditional analysis.
Garcia entered the U.S. Open as the tournament’s #17 seed, and has thus far made quick work of the competition eliminating each of her first two opponents, Kamilla Rakhimova (6-2, 6-4) and Anna Kalinskaya (6-3, 6-1) in straight sets. Garcia is among a group players seen as most likely to capture the title should #1 seed Iga Świątek (roughly 3/1 across the board) fail to do so. At the time of writing, Garcia’s odds to win the 2022 U.S. Open are as low as 8/1 at some books, with Sky Bet offering the biggest payout, at 11/1.
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Friday night in Flushing is going to be an event the likes of which the U.S. Open has seldom seen. With each passing winner, with each passing point, not only will Serena’s own confidence grow, but with it will grow a yearning among a raucous New York City crowd to lift her up and carry her further than anyone expected. What Serena’s done thus far is incredible.
That Tomljanović reached the quarterfinals at both Wimbledon and the Cincinnati Masters immediately prior to the U.S. Open is ample evidence of a bona fides. That she has never previously faced Serena either relegates her to the role of an extra in someone else’s story, or offers the . spares her for most of these dramatic memories of having stared down greatest individual talent we make history women’s tennis at the peak of her powers… unless it opens the door for her to slide in, under the radar, and steal her own spotlight.
Nope. If we’ve learning anything from Serena throughout her career, it’s that this woman traffics in ‘incredible’. What would be more incredible that kicking off first weekend of September by ratcheting up the already-palpable excitement at the U.S. Tennis Center into a full-blown frenzy… with a straight-set win?