Venus Williams Overcomes Petra Kvitova In A Three-Set Thriller To Reach A Ninth US Open Semifinal - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Overcomes Petra Kvitova In A Three-Set Thriller To Reach A Ninth US Open Semifinal

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In the first evening match scheduled in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, it was a battle between multiple Grand Slam champions between five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. It was Williams, who came out on top, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) in a pulsating battle to reach the semifinals at the US Open for the first time since 2010, and for the ninth time in her career. She will face fellow American Sloane Stephens in the last four as she bids to reach a third Grand Slam final in 2017. Williams will also return to the top five in the WTA rankings next Monday for the first time since January 2011.

The two multiple Grand Slam champions both held their opening games to get this mouth-watering quarter-final encounter inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium underway. However, it was the former world number two Petra Kvitova who made her move in Williams’ second service game as the ninth seed committed three untimely double faults to hand her opponent a 2-1 lead.

The 13th seeded Czech was all business as she consolidated the break but the two-time US Open champion responded with a hold to love, and a poor service game from Kvitova handed the break back to Williams. Both players were trading from baseline going toe-to-toe but it was the seven-time Grand Slam winner who won three games in a row leading 4-3.

The American played some inspiring tennis (Photo by Elsa / Getty)

Kvitova had gone off the boil in the opening set as she trailed 0-40 and the former world one capitalized on the first break point created to her, and she broke for 5-3 with a crushing backhand winner down the line, which gave her the opportunity to serve out for the first set.

The ninth-seeded American, who’s aiming for her first Grand Slam title since winning at Wimbledon in 2008, edged closer to that goal by clinching the first set with a serve to Kvitova’s forehand, which she could not return, taking the first set 6-3 in just 33 minutes.

 

Kvitova responds to send their sixth encounter to a deciding set

The 13th seed was competing in just her tenth Grand Slam quarterfinal, and Kvitova halted the run of games against her with a good hold of serve. Furthermore, the former world number two was on the comeback trail as she broke Williams’ serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set.

There was a chance for Williams to break back immediately but she was unable to convert the two break points that she created. Kvitova was upping the decibel levels with a roar of “pojd”, and she took a crucial 3-0 lead in the second set.

There was a halt of play for almost eleven minutes due to rain and the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof was closed. Williams finally got on the scoreboard with a hold to love, and she had another chance to break Kvitova’s serve, however, the Czech saved it and she produced two back-to-back aces, along with a primeval roar, stretching out to an unassailable 4-1 lead.

The two-time US Open champion remained faultless on her serve, and more chances came and went for the seven-time Grand Slam champion but Kvitova was ready in the heat of battle, and at tough moments, her swinging lefty serve got her out of jail and she clinched the game to lead 5-2 with another big roar.

As to be predicted, the two-time Wimbledon champion closed out the second set with ease with Williams’ backhand sailing long taking it 6-3 in an energy-sapping 54 minute set of tennis.

Williams claws her way back to clinch a berth in the semifinals

Kvitova had a good reason to feel to be the favorite in the final set as she led Williams 4-1 in their head-to-head record, and en route to her second Wimbledon title in 2014, they played the match of the tournament in the third round with Kvitova winning 7-5 in the final set.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion won her first game in the final set, and Kvitova responded getting onto the scoreboard early, leveling the score at 1-1. Moreover, despite leading 30-0, it was the 13th seed who drew first blood and took advantage of Wiliams’ frailties on her serve to take a 2-1 lead with two stunning back-to-back cross court backhand winners down the line.

Once again, the American did not give up as she was looking for the immediate break back. However, at 0-40, Kvitova did not give the former world number one a chance to get the break as she served immaculately well. The Czech held onto her serve, nudging the scoreboard once again with an ace out wide to lead 3-1.

However, once again, the pendulum swung in the ninth seed’s favor as she reeled off three games in succession to take a decisive 4-3 lead in the final set with Kvitova playing catch up once more. Under severe pressure and with the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd against the 27-year-old, she produced three aces in stunning fashion to restore parity at 4-4.

The two multiple Wimbledon champions have mutual respect for each other (Photo by Elsa / Getty)

Both players did not face another break point in this final set encounter, and the only way to separate these two multiple Grand Slam champions was a final set tiebreak.

The duo both won their first points in the tiebreak to keep the tiebreak at honors even at 1-1, however, it was the two-time US Open champion, who made her first move as her backhand caught Kvitova out, who was looking to pass the American, with her forehand going astray.

Williams stretched out to a comfortable 4-1 lead with the minibreak intact, and the wind had seemingly sailed out of the 13th seed. Her forehand continued to break down, and she committed an untimely double fault, which handed Williams a 6-1 lead, and five match points.

Kvitova saved the first one by virtue of a double fault from the former world number one but the seven-time Grand Slam champion made no mistake on the second one as she served a big second serve out wide to Kvitova’s backhand, clinching a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) in two hours and 34 minutes. It was arguably the match of the tournament in both men’s and women’s singles draws.

Williams spoke to Rennae Stubbs, after the match, and she thanked the fans for their support. “I have to say, I felt every single one of you guys behind me, all 23,000, it feels good, it feels amazing and I didn’t want to let you guys down, thank you so much for the support.”

Kvitova acknowledged the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after a tough battle with Williams (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty)

Williams said some nice things about Kvitova after the match in her on-court interview. “First of all, everything that she’s gone through, to go through that is unbelivable, you don’t imagine one day and that’s going to happen, so it’s so wonderful to see her playing amazing. I’m so excited to her seeing well, I’m excited to be able to play her, I’m so fortunate to have won that match, it came down to the wire, and I hope we have more matches like that and I’m wishing her more titles and more winners.

Williams spoke about American tennis and praised her sister Serena, “I think we have to give some credit to Serena, but there was a time in tennis, where all of my rivals were American, Capriati, Davenport and Monica Seles, so I love seeing these young Americans coming up, and playing big and focused, I would love a top four, top five, and we’re playing each other in semifinals, that would be huge.

“When situations gtt hairy, it’s crazy out here, I try to tell myself to enjoy my competition, enjoy the battle, and I think that I was able to do that, thank you guys for staying out here to see me through.”

Grand Slam

Australian Open Considering Switching Women’s Final To Sunday In Future

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The Australian Open could become the first Grand Slam to break away from the tradition of women playing their singles final first. 

According to a report from the Australian Associated Press, tournament chief Craig Tiley is open to making such a move which wouldn’t require any approval from either the WTA or ATP. However, they would likely need to consult with players first and no changes are set to be made in 2025. 

The reasoning for making such a change is due to the women’s final usually being shorter than the men’s best with it being a best-of-three set match. Compared to the men who play the best-of-five. Their thinking is that due to the length of men’s matches increasing in recent years, staging it on a Saturday would enable more people to watch the entire match compred to a Sunday when many are consious about staying up late due to the working week starting on Monday. 

This year’s Australian Open saw Jannik Sinner bounce back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a epic encounter that lasted three hours and 46 minuites. Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka required an hour and 17 mnuites to beat China’s Qinwen Zheng and capture the title. 

Should such a switch take place, it is estimated that the Sunday finale would end at around 10:30pm local time instead of after midnight, which would make it more appealing to fans. Furthermore, it could throw the women’s final more into the spotlight. 

However, there will be obstacles that need to be addressed. The most significant for the Australian Open will be trying to ensure that their 48-hour recovery period between best-of-five-set men’s matches will still be followed. 

This year was the first time in history that the Melbourne major took place over 15 days with play starting on a Sunday. Organisers claimed that the move was done in order to prevent the number of late-night finishes. However, it has little effect on any matches that took place after the first round. 

It is throught that now the event is held over 15 days, it gives more room for organisers to schedule the men’s final for a Saturday. The proposal was discussed during this year’s Australian Open’s official debrief. 

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Grand Slam

It Wasn’t The Same Old Story On Sunday Down Under

Jannik Sinner won his first Grand Slam title on Sunday.

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(@janniksin - Twitter)

It’s been the same old story at the Australian Open for a long time in the men’s game.

One of the greats almost always would take the top prize Down Under. Either Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or even Stan Wawrinka always prevailed since 2006 at Melbourne.

And then came Jannik Sinner in 2024.

None of the other superstars were still around for Sunday’s final.

A DIFFERENT AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Yes, this time it was a different Australian Open.

But actually Sinner may have written his own story when he upended Djokovic in the semifinals. Without that experience, the slender Italian may not have been able to handle the pressure that Daniil Medvedev sent his way in the final.

Sinner was ready for the finish line after shocking Djokovic in the semifinals. It just took time to get there.

Sinner played within himself most of the last three sets of the final. A first-time Grand Slam finalist, Sinner played as if he belonged there in those three sets.

But, oh, those first two sets when Medvedev dominated play with his backhand from the middle of the court. Backhands usually are reserved for the backhand side of the court, but not with the tall Russian on the court.

SINNER DIDN’T PLAY HIS GAME AT FIRST

In a similar manner as women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka, Sinner followed up a big semifinal win with his own Australian Open title. Only, Sinner had to fight for five sets to accomplish his dream Down Under with a 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Medvedev.

Sinner appeared to play far differently from his victory over Djokovic when he controlled the court with his aggressive play and power.

This time, Sinner started things conservatively with few aggressive winners, repeatedly leaving the corners wide open for Medvedev’s crafty, but hard hit strokes. Medvedev made Sinner  pay a price with a style of play that was just the opposite.

Medvedev played close to the baseline and aggressively hopped on balls with his backhand in whip-lash fashion. He hardly had to move as he conserved energy.

THE STRATEGY ALMOST WORKED TO PERFECTION

Medvedev’s strategy worked like a charm until Sinner served the ninth game of the third set as Medvedev once needed only six points for a possible Grand Slam title. Sinner managed to overcome a deuce score to win that game.

Medvedev fell behind 30-0 serving the 10th game of the set and then Sinner got his first set point. Sinner made it stand up and it was a new game after that.

Sinner didn’t appear to be ready for Medvedev’s game the first two sets, but the Italian then came alive. He became prepared for Medvedev, even after losing the first two sets.

Of course, Sabalenka got her boost from a surprising, but solid win over talented Coco Graff in the women’s semifinals. Sabalenka then was never really challenged by Qinwen Zheng in the final.

Sinner’s final was much different.  He was somewhat lucky to escape with  a win.

Medvedev almost wrapped up the title in the ninth game, but it didn’t happen. As a result, Sinner may have started his own success story in Grand Slam finals.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Daniil Medvedev Plays Jannik Sinner for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Daniil Medvedev during Friday’s semifinals (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The men’s singles and women’s doubles championship matches are on Sunday in Melbourne.

Across the last 10 hard court Majors, Daniil Medvedev has now advanced to six championship matches, half of which have come in Melbourne.  In those finals, Medvedev is a meek 1-4.  However, this is the first time Medvedev is looking across the net at a man not named Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, the two winningest male singles players of all-time at Grand Slam events.

And Medvedev can thank Jannik Sinner for that, who for the third time in their last four meetings, defeated Djokovic in Friday’s semifinals to reach his first Major final.  Since adding Darren Cahill to his team 18 months ago, one of tennis’s best coaches of all-time, Sinner’s game has continually and significantly improved, most evident in his three victories over Djokovic since November.  On Sunday, the most dominant male player of this fortnight looks to break more new ground in his young career.

Earlier on Sunday, in the women’s doubles championship match, it’s Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko (11) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2).  This is a first Major final for Kichenok, and a first in doubles for Ostapenko.  Su-Wei has won seven Majors in doubles, including her first mixed title earlier this week, and is 7-1 at this stage of Majors.  Mertens has won three Majors in women’s doubles, including Wimbledon in 2021 alongside Su-Wei.


Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Through six rounds, Sinner has dropped just one of 19 sets, which came against Djokovic in the semis.  But even that match was a rather comfortable win for the Italian, who lost only six games in the three sets he claimed.  Jannik has not just been the best ATP player this fortnight: he’s been the best ATP player since the last Major, with a record of 26-2.  The 22-year-old is 10-4 in ATP finals, with this of course being by far the biggest of his career to date.

Medvedev endured a much more complicated path to this final, completing 25 out of a possible 30 sets, which included three five-setters.  Two of those came in the last two rounds, against Hubert Hurkacz and Sascha Zverev.  Daniil has spent six more hours on court than Jannik, and has played for over 11 hours during the second week alone.  He is 20-16 in ATP Finals, with all 20 titles coming at different events.  But Medvedev can be rather streaky in finals: after losing five in a row, he won seven of eight, yet has now lost his last three.

And those last two losses came at the hands of Sinner, who beat him in both Beijing and Vienna.  Jannik also defeated Daniil in the semifinals of the ATP Finals in November, though all three of those recent matches were tight.  Prior to that, Medvedev had dominated their head-to-head 6-0, which includes two finals earlier in 2023.  All ten of their meetings have taken place on hard courts, and this is their first at a Major.

Based on their recent history, as well as their individual form this fortnight, I favor Sinner to win his first Major on Sunday.  While he’ll surely be nervous in the biggest match of his life, and could experience an emotional letdown coming off ending Novak’s undefeated record of 20-0 in Australian Open semis and finals, Jannik will be the much fresher player on this day.  Plus, he will feel confident after those three recent wins over Daniil, who has a lot of scar tissue to overcome in Major finals.  And after facing Medvedev so much within the past year, Sinner is well-versed on how to take advantage of Daniil’s deep return position.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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