Venus Williams fell down a break early, but quickly rebounded and rolled from there to top fellow American Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 6-1 Monday in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada.
“I think she had a really great second serve,” Venus told the media in her post-match news conference. “I think I got a better feel for it in the second set. In the first set, I was still figuring it out. I hadn’t really seen her play.”
Plenty of people have seen Dolehide play now, as Monday wasn’t her first brush with knocking off a superstar. Back in March, she nearly took down world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania at Indian Wells, Calif. She looked like she could pull off the upset this time, but Williams won 12 of the final 14 games of the match to win in 1 hour, 17 minutes.
“I think maybe she had more of an advantage because she’s probably seen me play more than I’ve played her. It was pretty close in the first set,” Williams said.
The match was stopped for a period with Williams, 38, up 5-0 in the second set. A lines official succumbed to heat illness and was tended to on the court.
“Heat illness is really brutal, so I hope she feels better,” Williams said. “At that point you still have to stay focused on the match, try to stay warm, not cool down. You have to be able to still be able to mentally stray strong in those circumstances.”
The only two other seeds in action, No. 9 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and No. 10 Julia Gorges of Germany, also won on Monday. Pliskova topped compatriot Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-4 and Gorges took down Hungarian Timea Babos 3-6. 7-6 (3), 6-4. Babos is currently the top-ranked doubles player in the world.
The event was delayed several times because of rain on Monday.
Among those yet to play are top-ranked Halep and No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. The top eight seeds all received first-round byes.
Should Williams and Halep win their next matches, they would meet in the Round of 16.
—Field Level Media