US Open| Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens win to set-up crunch semi-final clash

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US Open| Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens win to set-up crunch semi-final clash

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SportsCafe Desk

09/06/2017

Venus Williams managed to reach her 23rd Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday as she overcame Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova in a thrilling encounter that went to the final-set tie-break. Sloane Stephens didn’t have it any easier against Anastasija Sevastova, guaranteeing an American in the final.

Number 9 seeded Venus Williams reached her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year as she edged past old rival Petra Kvitova in a draining two hours and 35 minutes, which saw both taking control every other game.

The thrilling 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory will not only see Williams in the US Open semifinal for the first time since 2010, but it also means that she returns to the WTA Top 5 at the end of the fortnight for the first time since 2011.

Kvitova had to be the toughest opponent Williams was facing this year. The pair had met five times previously and each time they had needed three sets and twice a final set tie-break for the decider, assuring the crowd that it was bound to be a close contest.

Williams started the game horribly as she gave up the first break of serve at 3-1 with three double faults, before reeling off five straight games as Kvitova racked up the errors. However, the first-set saw Williams winning four of her five service games and two of her four return games, which made the difference.

The second set went totally south as a loose Williams handed Kvitova the chance to bounce back which the Czech did brilliantly. Despite making five unforced errors, Kvitova won all her service games saving five break points.

Two brilliant backhands had earned Kvitova an early break in the third set before a persistent Williams recovered from 3-1 down to level the game when the Czech double-faulted. It came down to a tie-break finally and Williams had the momentum by then, winning it 7-2.

Sloane Stephens had a tricky task at hand against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, who was brimming with confidence after defeating Maria Sharapova in the last round. But, the 24-year-old showed immense determination to win the hard-fought game 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

The 83-ranked had an easy first-set, winning four of the five service games and two return games. 18 unforced errors from Sevastova also helped her cause massively. However, the Latvian returned in the second set with a vengeance cutting her unforced errors to just 6 and win it 3-6.

The final set went to a tie-break and Sevastova’s three errors hinted early that she was under pressure as Stephens cruised to the semi-final with a magnificent back hand for the final point. With America’s Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe also fighting it in the last eight, United States could see an all-American semi-final lineup on Friday.

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