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Venus Williams vs Mertens WTA Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Venus opens her 2019 clay-court campaign against Mertens

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 13 May 2019
  • Venus Williams vs Elise Mertens is live from Rome on Monday, 13 May from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
  • Venus leads the head-to-head 2-0
Venus Williams (PA Sport)

Venus Williams opens her 2019 clay-court season on Monday when she takes on Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Williams is competing in her first tournament since the Miami Open, where she fell in the fourth round to Simona Halep. The former world No. 1 has compiled a decent 11-4 record this season, reaching quarter finals in Auckland and Indian Wells, making the third round at the Australian Open, and the Round of 16 in Miami. Her losses have been against some of the best players in the business, with two coming against Simona Halep, (who also beat the American at the Australian Open), while she fell to Angelique Kerber at Indian Wells, and to an inspired Bianca Andreescu in Auckland.

The seven-time major has recorded some high-profile wins this season, none more so that her terrific second-round victory over Petra Kvitova at Indian Wells, where she recovered from 4-6 0-3 down to dig out a brilliant three-set win over the red-hot Czech. She also defeated fellow former world No. 1, Victoria Azarenka in her first match of the year in Auckland. Generally, when she has played, she has been quite OK.

Venus remains without a title since February 2016, when she won in Kaohsiung. She came very close in 2017, reaching finals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the WTA Finals in Singapore, but she has not made a final since then. The American ended an excellent 2017 at No. 5 in the world, but she could not quite reproduce those performances in 2018, making just the one semi-final- at Indian Wells- in a disjointed season which ended after a third-round loss to Serena Williams at the US Open.

The 38-year-old is a former champion in Rome, claiming the title way back in 1999 when she defeated Mary Pierce in the championship match. She had made the final in the previous year, losing to Martina Hingis. Venus reached the Rome semi-finals in 2005 and 2009, while she was a quarter finalist in 2008, 2010, 2012, and most recently, in 2017. She has maintained a consistent presence in the Italian capital, as this will be her eighth consecutive appearance at the Foro Italico.

She faces a tough start to her 2019 Rome campaign as she takes on Elise Mertens on Monday.

Since winning the biggest title of her career in Doha in February, Mertens has gone off the boil, winning just four matches in her next seven tournaments. Two of those wins were in Rabat, against Kirsten Flipkens and Ivana Jorovic, while she picked up one win each at Indian Wells and Miami. She has failed to cross the opening rounds in Dubai, Charleston, Stuttgart and Madrid. 

Mertens opened her season with a three-set defeat to Kiki Bertens in Brisbane, but she eased into some form with a quarter final in Sydney and a third-round run at the Australian Open, before exploding to life with a sensational title run in Doha, where she took out Bertens, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep in an inspired week of tennis. 

Mertens has stumbled to a 2-4 record on clay this year, but like she showed last season, she is no slouch on this surface. The 23-year-old claimed titles in Lugano and Rabat, and made the fourth round of the French Open. She had earlier defended her title on the hard courts of Hobart, and made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, while she also impressed during the North American hard-court swing later in the year, reaching the fourth round of the US Open after making consecutive quarter finals in Montreal and Cincinnati, and a semi-final in San Jose- all of which contributed to an impressive year-end ranking of 12th.

The Belgian was good at the start of 2019, but she has lost her way in recent weeks- can she regain her best form in Rome, where she takes on Venus Williams in her first ever match at the tournament?

Venus has had the measure of Mertens in their two previous meetings, winning in straight sets at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2017. With Mertens struggling for form at the moment, the American has got a very good chance of maintaining that perfect record against the Belgian on Monday. 

Venus Williams vs Elise Mertens is live from Rome on Monday, 13 May from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

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Venus Williams vs Mertens WTA Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Venus opens her 2019 clay-court campaign against Mertens

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