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Serena vs Diyas WTA Cincinnati Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Serena back in action two days after retiring from Toronto final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 13 Aug 2019
  • Serena Williams vs Zarina Diyas is live from Cincinnati on Tuesday, 13 August from 8:30pm local time/ 1:30am BST (Wednesday morning)
  • Williams has won all of her three previous meetings with Ziyas in straight sets
August 9, 2019, Toronto, ON, USA: TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 09: Serena Williams (USA) celebrates after winning a point during her quarter-finals match of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament on August 9, 2019, at Aviva Centre in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: ? Julian Avram/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Just two days after her tearful withdrawal from the Rogers Cup final against Bianca Andreescu, Serena Williams returns to action on Tuesday as she takes on Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas in the first round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. 

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Williams lasted only four games against Andreescu on Sunday before quitting the match due to an upper back injury.

The American had put together a quality week in Toronto, beating Elise Mertens, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Naomi Osaka and Marie Bouzkova to set up an eagerly anticipated inter-generational battle with Canadian teenager, Andreescu in the final, but the match came to an abrupt and anticlimactic conclusion as Williams quit while trailing 1-3 in the first set. Serena later said she had developed the problem the night before following her three-set semi-final victory over Bouzkova.

“Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move,” Serena said in her post-match press conference.  “It's difficult for me to serve, I mean, I could move, but I need my upper body". 
“My lower body was fine, but I just couldn't do anything with my upper body and, again, for this period of time... I don't want to get this far and not at least try. I think I would have really regretted not at least going out there and seeing maybe if a miracle happened.”

It is perhaps surprising that Serena is going ahead to play Cincinnati given the proximity of the tournament to her Toronto withdrawal, and with the US Open just around the corner, but the American is convinced the problem was only short-term, and will go away in time for her opening match in Cincinnati.

“I've had this before and it's, like, 24, 36 hours where I'm just in crazy spasm and then it's, like, gone. And so that's a little bit frustrating for me because I know that I could play. I just can't play today". 
“I do different treatments. I take a day off. But obviously, I didn't have 24 hours or plus to take off.”

It's not her first injury problem of the season, as she struggled with a knee injury in the latter part of the hard-court swing in the opening quarter of the year and through the European clay court season. The legendary American opened her year with a quarter final run at the Australian Open, where she lost a 5-1 lead in the final set against Karolina Pliskova (Serena has never admitted it, but it did appear that an ankle injury played a big part in that capitulation). She then retired or withdrew from her next three tournaments- Indian Wells through illness; Miami and Rome with the knee injury- before losing to Sofia Kenin in the third round at Roland Garros.

Williams was back to full fitness at Wimbledon, reaching the final, but she again fell short of her record-equaling 24th major title in a comprehensive defeat to an inspired Simona Halep in her last match before Toronto.

The Rogers Cup final was Serena's first WTA final- outside the Grand Slams- since May 2016. She continues to seek her first title since her return from maternity leave in February last year, having lost Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, and the US Open in 2019.

The 23-time major winner will give it another shot in Cincinnati, where she is a two-time champion, and she opens against Zarina Diyas on Tuesday night.

Diyas was as high as No. 31 in the rankings in 2015, but she was down at 242nd in April 2017 following an injury lay-off between June 2016 (she hurt her wrist at Wimbledon and needed surgery) and February 2017.

Diyas battled back into the top 100 by the end of 2017, climbing to a year-end mark of 66th following a season when she won the Japan Open in Tokyo, reached the third round at Wimbledon, and produced a string of useful results on the ITF Tour, including winning the W100 meet in Manchester, a W25 event in Nanning, and reaching another final in Anning.

Without being spectacular, Diyas maintained her top 100 ranking in 2018- her standout result being a fourth round run in Miami, while she made quarter finals in Shenzhen, Strasbourg and Hiroshima, ending the season at 89th.

She struggled for tour-level wins in the first half of 2019, managing just two wins between the start of the year and Wimbledon. She was down at 115th at the end of April, but she rescued her top-100 ranking with some strong performances on the ITF Tour. The 25-year-old won a W80 meet in Gifu, and made a couple of finals in Fukuoka and Manchester. 

Diyas has made a much better start to the hard-court season, beating Cori Gauff and Lesia Tsurenko in Washington to claim back-to-back tour-level wins for the first time this season, and in the process, reaching her first quarter final in 2019. She was knocked out by Camila Giorgi in the last eight.

The world No. 80 produced two quality wins in the Cincinnati qualifying rounds, beating former top-15 star, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Washington champion, Jessica Pegula to reach the main draw for the first time since 2015, when she suffered an opening round loss to Venus Williams.

Diyas takes on Venus' younger sister, Serena on Tuesday, seeking her first win in her fourth meeting with the legendary American.

Serena's fitness will be under plenty of scrutiny, but she surely won't be playing if there's any chance she could aggravate any injuries. Based on the assumption that she has fully recovered from the back problem that forced her retirement from the Toronto final some 48 hours ago, the 23-time major winner should be too powerful for Diyas.

Serena Williams vs Zarina Diyas is live from Cincinnati on Tuesday, 13 August from 8:30pm local time/ 1:30am BST (Wednesday morning)

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Serena vs Diyas WTA Cincinnati Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Serena back in action two days after retiring from Toronto final

Serena Williams returns to action just two days after retiring from the Rogers Cup final, as she takes on Zarina Diyas in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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