January 16, 2013 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles
Washington Kastles superstar Venus Williams and World No. 2 Maria Sharapova advanced at the Australian Open Tuesday night to set up a third-round showdown.
It's only the first week of the first Grand Slam tournament this season, but Venus vs. Sharapova shapes up to be one of the most important matches of 2013.
Venus is riding a 10-match winning streak, playing her best tennis since she was diagnosed with SjÃ¶gren's Syndrome in the summer of 2011.
Sharapova is one of three women in the race for the No. 1 ranking at tournament's end, and a loss to Venus would take her out of the running.
After capturing the Luxembourg title to end 2012 and sweeping three Hopman Cup singles matches to start this season, Venus has breezed through to her meeting with Sharapova.
The No. 25 seed defeated Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of the Australian Open before knocking off former World No. 11 Alizé Cornet 6-3, 6-3 in the second.
But nobody is hotter down under than the second-seeded Sharapova, who has won both of her first two matches 6-0, 6-0.
"I don't think I'm really going into it with a different mentality except really focusing on what I'm doing with the ball," Venus said of facing Sharapova. "I know I'm not the highest seed, so I realize I'm probably going to have to play someone and someone is going to have to play me. That's pretty much what it is."
Venus' sister Serena Williams won the latest chapter of the Kastle vs. Kastle history on tour, eliminating 2012 Kastles substitute Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.
Despite the scoreline, Serena received a scare in the first set when she rolled her right ankle while retrieving a forehand. With pain and swelling, Serena took a medical timeout.
She said that the discomfort actually allowed her to relax and swing freely following treatment, and she finished off her Kastles teammate in 54 minutes.
At a post-match press conference in which she fielded 16 questions -- all about her ankle -- Serena sent a clear message to reporters.
"I'm not here to make excuses; I'm here to play," said Serena. "I'm not 18 years old where I want to sit this one out or I don't have to run to the forehand. I feel like I've gone through a lot, and that I just have to mentally adapt."
Tennis Channel will have live coverage of Serena's second-round match against 19-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza at about 8:30 pm on Rod Laver Arena.
Watch highlights from Serena Williams' win over Edina Gallovits-Hall by clicking the image above.
The Kastles also start doubles play this evening with six matches involving Washington players, highlighted by Leander Paes and Anastasia Rodionova in action.
Paes and Radek Stepanek begin the defense of their 2012 title against Kevin Anderson of the Sacramento Capitals and Jonathan Erlich. Paes and Anderson previously met during the 2012 Mylan World TeamTennis Finals, when the Kastles edged the Capitals despite falling 5-2 in men's doubles.
Coming off their title in Auckland, Anastasia and Cara Black have a dream draw to start the Australian Open. They meet local wild cards Monique Adamczak and Stephanie Bengson in the first round, with the winners to face unseeded Irina Falconi of the Boston Lobsters and Shuko Aoyama.
Both Anastasia and Arina Rodionova fell short of reaching the singles main draw, with Anastasia going 1-1 and Arina going 2-1 during qualifying play last week. Valeria Savinykh, who beat Anastasia in three sets, has since reached the third round of the main draw, while Maria Jo=E3o Koehler, who defeated Arina in three sets, advanced to the second round.
A full schedule of Kastles matches tonight can be found below, including times, court numbers and links to live streaming and live scoring.
When and Where to Watch the Kastles on Wednesday Night
Player Event DC Time* Court Scoring/Streaming
Huey Doubles 7:00 pm 22 Scoring
Serena Singles 8:30 pm Laver Streaming
Anastasia Doubles 8:30 pm 5 Scoring
Kops-Jones Doubles 8:30 pm 15 Scoring
Arina Doubles 9:30 pm 19 Scoring
Paes Doubles 10:00 pm 22 Scoring
Serena/Venus Doubles 1:00 am 2 Streaming