Tuesday 19 September, 2017

US OPEN: Venus Williams edges Kvitova for 1st semifinal since 2010

Venus Williams, of the United States, follows through on a return to Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

Venus Williams, of the United States, follows through on a return to Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

Venus Williams continued her remarkable renaissance by returning to the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time since 2010.

Williams reached her third major semifinal of the season — something she last did 15 years ago — by edging two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) on Tuesday night to a soundtrack of thunderous partisan support under a closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 37-year-old Williams, who won titles at Flushing Meadows way back in 2000 and 2001, trailed 3-1 in the third set before digging out of the hole with a little help: Kvitova's eighth double-fault handed over the break that made it 3-all. Kvitova's ninth double-fault gave Williams her initial match point in the tiebreaker.

Kvitova, seeded 13th, was hoping to prolong her comeback from a knife attack less than nine months ago by reaching the first U.S. Open semifinal of her career. She needed surgery on her racket-holding hand after she was cut by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic in December. She returned to the tour at the French Open in May, losing in the second round there and at Wimbledon.

Kvitova has said she still does not have full strength in her left hand. But she was often at her powerful best against No. 9 Williams, especially in the last two sets, repeatedly delivering big, flat forehands. Neither woman played with a ton of subtlety, mainly trading stinging groundstrokes from the baseline on exchanges that grew in intensity as the 2-hour, 34-minute encounter went along.

Williams, who revealed in 2011 she had been diagnosed with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, is the oldest women's semifinalist at any Grand Slam tournament since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994.

But this sort of throwback run is becoming almost routine again for Williams, who made it to the Australian Open final in January of this year, then the Wimbledon final in July.

She will face unseeded Sloane Stephens on Thursday in the first all-American women's semifinal in New York since 2002.