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By Pawan Atri
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Ever since Venus was diagnosed with the Sjogren's syndrome in August 2011, the former world no.1 hasn’t been able to strike the ball the way she used to do earlier. The force and the velocity have been missing from her ground-strokes and her serve has been so susceptible that it has been targeted even by her lower ranked adversaries.
Moreover, her ferocious forehand has certainly gone off the boil as she has been making hoards of unforced errors from that wing. Her movement has got stiffer and she is taking far too much time in reaching to the balls. Yet, one must salute her fighting spirit as she has never given up her hope of getting healthy and with that grittiness she is finally getting back to her normal self.
The signs of improvements in her health were first noticed in Brazil, where despite her semifinals loss to Olga Puchkova on her least preferred surface clay, she dazzled the crowd with some deft touch at the net. Throughout that tournament, she appeared to be calm, in peace with herself and was also attempting to strike clean winners – something that she had stopped doing because of the fatigue factor that she had in her body due to her illness.
In Florida, she once again returns to action after three weeks and will have her hands full as Date-Krumm is a tough rival first up, but if she can hold on to her serve without being engaged in long and draining rallies, the match resides on her racquet.
Williams have dominated their head-to-head as she has come out on top of the 42 year old on both occasions the two have met on the ladies’ circuit. While the Japanese pushed the five times Wimbledon champ to a final set tiebreaker two years ago at the All England Club, Venus destroyed her in the opening round at Miami in 2012. This season as the pair faces each other at Crandon Park, the match is heading towards a similar result.
Pick: Venus in two!
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