Venus starts slowly but wins Rogers Cup opener

Venus Williams beat Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 6-1. (Reuters pic)

MONTRÉAL: Venus Williams fell behind 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 Montréal, Canada.

“I think she had a really great second serve,” Williams 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.”

Many 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 number one Simona Halep of Romania at Indian Wells. 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 one hour and 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, ninth seed Karolína Plíšková of the Czech Republic and 10th seed Julia Görges of Germany, also won on Monday. Plíšková topped compatriot Kateřina Siniaková 6-4, 6-4, while Görges took down Hungarian Tímea 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 world number two 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.