Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 4 of the 2021 Australian Open.
Quick, think fast: if we ask you to list the single most impressive feat of Serena Williams’s career, what do you answer?
Probably the 23 Grand Slam titles, right? It has to be the 23 Grand Slam titles—but what if that’s not it?
Then maybe it’s the 183 straight weeks at No. 1 on the WTA rankings, and 319 weeks in total. Or perhaps it’s the four Olympic gold medals as well as the 14 doubles Grand Slam titles and the other two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, to go with her 23 singles ones. Perhaps you may think back on her 85.2 per cent career winning percentage. Or what about when she held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time in 2002 and 2003, only to do it again more than 10 years later? It could also be her lasting legacy and impact on and off the tennis courts, both of which are guaranteed to far exceed her playing days.
And sure, those are all valid answers. But might we present an alternative?
Before her first round match at this year’s Australian Open, folks from the WTA acknowledged which players among those active have the highest career winning percentage in the first round of Grand Slams. And waddayaknow there too lies Williams’s name at the top.
Best winning % in 1st round of Grand Slam tournaments
Active WTA players with minimum of 10 matches
Serena Williams 75-1 (98.7)
Naomi Osaka 15-2 (88.2)
Madison Keys 28-4 (87.5)
Garbiñe Muguruza 26-5 (83.8)
Venus Williams 72-15 (82.7)
Victoria Azarenka 42-9 (82.3)
Source WTA pic.twitter.com/qL3n66viMY
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 7, 2021
Seventy-five wins against a single, minuscule loss—this one against Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open.
Yeah, there will never be another Serena Williams.
That all said, here are your three highlighted matches for day 4. As always, you can find the full daily schedule here.
Margaret Court Arena: Kaia Kanepi vs Sofia Kenin  (Not before 1pm AEDT)
Defending champion Sofia Kenin has had quite the ho-hum start to her title defense here in Melbourne, surviving against wild-card entry Australian Maddison Inglis by the score of 7-5 and 6-4 in the first round. It should not get much better in the second round against Kaia Kanepi, a tricky and veteran opponent who won’t make it easy for the 22-year-old American.
But that’s to be expected, really, when you’re the defending champion of one of the sport’s biggest four events.
Rod Laver Arena: Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Stefanos Tsitsipas  (Third match of the day)
In another world, Thanasi Kokkinakis might have been a relatively close approximation of what Stefanos Tsitsipas has become. Instead, he should be fairly easily dismissed here by his younger opponent. Tough.
Margaret Court Arena: Pablo Cuevas vs Alex De Minaur  (Not before 7pm AEDT)
We’re mostly choosing to highlight this match if only to discuss the gall and nerve of Alex De Minaur in his previous match against Tennys Sandgren. De Minaur cruised to a 7-5, 6-1 and 6-1 win and decided—on match point no less!—that he would hit Sandgren directly in the chest. Payback, apparently, for the American having hit him earlier in the final set.
Look, there’s even video of it.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG