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Battle Tested

Venus Williams was forced to battle through not only her opponent but the sun.
Venus Williams was forced to battle through not only her opponent but the sun.
Kenny Evans

The streak continued for the elder Williams sister as Venus Williams battled through the brutle conditions at the Sony Open. Williams, riding a win streak that includes her title run in Dubai just last month, has been playing some inspiring tennis of late and things looked the same at the start, but as the match wore on things started to change and somewhat collapse.

Williams came out firing against her Australian opponent, building a 5-1 lead which included two breaks of serve, but the elder stateswoman of the WTA started to lose her timing and eventually her confidence as her often unreliable forehand started misfiring. Williams, and the fans that packed in the stadium to watch the former champion, watched as her seemingly insurmountable lead dwindled from 5-1 to 5-4, but she was able to find her form briefly and close out the first set.

Throughout the second set, it looked as though Williams was struggling with the heat; she was breathing heavily, moving lethargic, and often wincing. Her opponent, Casey Dellacqua, seemed to enjoy the weather; she started to move better and started to boss the rallys. As Williams struggled with her game, mainly the forehand and serve, Dellacqua started to gain confidence and really take it to her more famous opponent. Dellacqua would then start to take her backhand early and drive it deep in the court to pin Williams back behind the baseling, drawing a short ball in which she would then pummel with her inside forehand; it was a perfect combination that lead to capture of the second set for the Australian.

As Williams and Dellacqua took their ten minute break (the heat rule was in effect), Williams went and changed her outfit and seemed to change her mindframe. Coming back from the break, Williams started serving better and seemed to have regained her composure and confidence off the ground and that ultimately lead to her claiming yet another win this year and continuing her confident win streak.

Williams next will face Dominika Cibulkova from France, the Australian Open finalist; Cibulkova has been playing some amazing tennis this year as well, so it'll be a battle for sure but it's definitely a match in which Williams should be slightly favored. If Williams is returning well, there's no reason she should control the rallies and the match. But for now, Venus Williams is "safely" into the fourth round of the Sony Open.