Venus reaches first semifinal in 14 years

MELBOURNE: Venus Williams continued her astonishing late-career revival by felling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 7-6(3) on Tuesday to reach her first Australian Open semifinal in 14 years and become the oldest woman to reach the last four at Melbourne Park in the professional era.
The quarterfinal will hardly be remembered as a classic, with both Venus and the 24th-ranked Russian surrendering serve with alarming regularity despite perfect conditions for tennis at Rod Laver Arena.
In the end it was 36-year-old Venus’ experience that proved decisive when the pressure rose, and Pavlyuchenkova crumbled with a double-fault on match point to boost the American’s hopes of a maiden title at Melbourne Park.
“Oh my gosh I’m so excited,” said the seven-time Grand Slam champion after closing out the one hour and 48-minute tussle. “I want to go further. I’m not happy just with this.”
“I’m just so excited that I have another opportunity to play again.”
Following her run at Wimbledon, 13th seed Venus has now made the semi-finals at two of the last three Grand Slams. She was 22 when she last made the semi-finals at Melbourne, during a run to the 2003 final where she was beaten by younger sister Serena, the current world number two, in three sets.
Venus will play an all-American semifinal against Coco Vandeweghe, who thrashed former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-0 in the following quarterfinal at Rod Laver Arena.
The mouthwatering prospect of a repeat of the 2003 final against Serena beckons if the second seed can get there as well.
Venus has stormed through the Melbourne Park draw without losing a set and was never truly threatened by Pavlyuchenkova who let herself down with nine double-faults. Both players struggled to hold serve but Pavlyuchenkova buckled at the bigger moments. When serving at 5-4 to stay in the first set, she double-faulted and butchered a forehand to offer three set points. Venus hammered a forehand winner to bring up three match points and Pavlyuchenkova surrendered the match meekly with her ninth double-fault. — Reuters