Venus Williams reached her first Australian Open semi-final for 14 years as she overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(3).
The 36-year-old became the first player to book her place in the last four. It also marks a 21st Grand Slam semi-final for the veteran American. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she became the oldest woman to reach this stage of the Australian Open in the Open Era.
Breaks of serve galore
The seven-time Grand Slam winner proved too much in the end for her opponent, but the score slightly flattered Venus.
Williams didn’t have it all her own way. There was some superb ball striking in the match and Pavlyuchenkova didn’t seem fazed by who was across the net from her. The Russian was giving as good as she got, and looked comfortable in her first ever quarter-final in Melbourne.
Although it was the struggles both players experienced on serve that dominated this match. Williams and Pavlyuchenkova seemingly found it difficult to hold serve on a particular side of the court due to the position of the sun.
Consequently there were numerous breaks of serve, but after being a break down Venus recovered and broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve twice in three games. This was enough for the #17 seed to take the first set.
Pavlyuchenkova’s troubles on serve continued in the second set, and despite breaking Venus she couldn’t consolidate the break. She showed fight by taking the second set to a tiebreak, but it wasn’t enough to force a third. The Russian double faulted on match point, her ninth double fault overall, to hand the match to Williams.
Venus Williams books her place in the Australian Open semi-finals
It was the American’s 50th win in Melbourne and she was visibly emotional following her victory.
“I want to go further. I’m not happy with just this,” she said. And there’s no reason that she can’t. Venus hasn’t dropped a single set on her way to the last four and has experience on her side.
She’ll have to serve better if she wants to go even deeper in the tournament. That said, on her day you feel Venus still has the weapons to beat anyone left in the draw.
She’ll next face fellow American Coco Vandeweghe, who destroyed seventh seed Garbiñe Muguruza in straight sets (6-4, 6-0).
The prospect of a final against her sister Serena is still very much on the cards. It would be a replica of the 2003 final where Venus finished as the runner-up.