Williams sees off battling Schiavone in New York

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
venus williams

venus williams

Venus Williams progressed into the last four at the US Open after beating French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

There was little to choose between the two 30-year-olds in what proved a tight match-up on the Arthur Ashe court. Williams, the last remaining American in both the male and female draws, boasted superior power in her serve and ground-strokes, but the Milanese Schiavone endeavoured to compete with her hard-hitting opponent.

A close first set saw Williams, the No3 seed, break first and take a brief lead. However, the plucky fifth seed fought back to break the two-time US Open champion. The set continued to ebb and flow in a similar pattern and was eventually decided on a tie-break.

Williams took an early 4-0 lead and it appeared the 2000 and 2001 New York champion would romp to a one-set advantage. But unsurprisingly, Schiavone battled back once more to level the match at 4-4 following a number of highly entertaining rallies; the Italian displaying soft hands at the net as she scurried across the court to hunt down Williams’ best efforts.

Despite a valiant comeback, an over-hit sliced backhand which drifted long provided Williams with a chance to claim the first set and the seven-time Grand Slam champions seized the opportunity much to the anger of Schiavone, who berated herself after an encouraging fight-back.

William’s, inspired by her tie-break success, stormed to a 4-1 lead in the second set. Yet the Italian displayed admirable fighting qualities once more and got back to 5-4 as Williams double-faulted on her chance to serve for the match.

The experienced Italian then had the opportunity to level the quarter-final at 5-5 but was unable hold her nerve as Williams broke and saw out the match to set up a semi-final clash with reigning champion Kim Clijsters.

The blustery conditions made for a difficult match for both players, a factor which Williams alluded to in her post-match interview.

“It was challenging,” said Williams. “I don’t think either of us were able to play our exact normal game because it was just hard to make a choice in the wind. I think you end up playing a little safer, more toward the center of the court.”

Meanwhile, Schiavone was disappointed to succumb to her seventh straight defeat to the American.

“Yes, I’m disappointed, because I had the chance and the quality to beat her,” said the Italian. “I think I lost this match a little bit more than she won it.

“She doesn’t like to play with me – I play different balls, I push her in defence, I don’t give her the chance to play how she wants. This time is for her, but I will find the way to beat her.”

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