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10:46 pm - Friday November 17, 2017

Venus survives marathon as Pliskova races into semi-finals

Agencies, Singapore

Venus Williams produced a vintage display full of guts and determination to grind out a 7-5 6-7(3) 7-5 victory over Jelena Ostapenko at the WTA Finals on Tuesday to set up a White Group decider for a semi-finals berth against Garbine Muguruza.

Williams and Ostapenko had both lost their opening ties on Sunday so were desperate for a victory to keep their future fate in the eight-woman event in their own hands and neither appeared willing to budge in a titanic three hour and 13-minute slugfest.

In the end, the 37-year-old Williams emerged from a bruising encounter that featured 20 breaks of serve with a triumph built on her calmness at the key moments and ruthlessness when offered a chance to attack her opponent’s weak second serve. “Sometimes you need some luck.

I don’t know if I had any tonight as I had to work for every point,” Williams said in a courtside interview. “It’s not easy when you lose the first match. Both of us were in the same situation and you have to fight, what else can you do, to live another day.”

If the first encounter of the day was a marathon, the second was a sprint as Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova swatted aside Spaniard Muguruza 6-2 6-2 in just 62 minutes to advance to the last four as pool winner with two victories from as many ties.

The opening match started with Ostapenko trying to force the pace with the high-risk strategy that carried her to French Open glory, while Williams was content to pick up free points as her opponent sprayed a plethora of attempted winners wide or long.

The Latvian edged ahead in the opener, however, and even served for the set at 5-3 but the veteran American dug deep and reeled off six consecutive games to steal the first set and then move ahead in the second.

Posted in: Sports

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