Vintage Venus Victorious Versus Vandeweghe
Bryans Into 10th Australian Open Final
January 26, 2017
Two Mylan WTT Family members stood at opposite sides of the net on Thursday in the first women’s semifinal of the 2017 Australian Open. Both represented the United States, each packing their own power and punch, but hailed from two different generations.
Experience prevailed in the end, as longtime Washington Kastles star Venus Williams rallied to overcome CoCo Vandeweghe of the Philadelphia Freedoms 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 to reach the final at Melbourne Park for the first time in 14 years. Williams saved 12 of the 13 break points she faced, firing 11 aces, and was successful 11 of the 15 times she came to net.
“It means so much, mostly because she played so well. I had to play defense the whole time, it felt like,” Williams told Rennae Stubbs in an on-court interview. “There was never a moment of relaxation. To be able to get to the final through a match like this, I'm excited about American tennis as well.”
The 36-year-old Williams, who is set to contest her first major singles championship match since Wimbledon in 2009, will clash against her sister Serena in a blockbuster final Saturday. That meeting at the All England Club was the last time Venus and Serena squared off with a piece of major hardware on the line.
After trading breaks to begin the match, both Williams and Vandeweghe held serve without a waiver to reach the tiebreaker stage. From there, Vandeweghe emerged as the more aggressive player and executed with more consistency to take a one-set lead.
Williams regrouped to secure an early break advantage and remained the steadier player throughout the second set, delivering crucial serves when she was under pressure to eventually level the match. Much of the same storyline continued in the third set, with Williams breaking to begin and ultimately never looking back. The 36-year-old and seven-time major singles champion closed out Vandeweghe on her fourth match point.
This was not the first time Williams and Vandeweghe met in a high-pressure situation. At the 2012 Mylan WTT Finals in Charleston, S.C., Williams battled past Vandeweghe 5-4 in the decisive set to clinch victory for the Kastles and secure the team’s second consecutive perfect season.
Vandeweghe enjoyed her best result at a major, having previously advanced to the 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinals. In Melbourne, she knocked out Roberta Vinci and Eugenie Bouchard before proceeding to dispatch world No. 1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber and current Roland Garros titlist Garbine Muguruza in succession to earn her final four place. As a result of her run Down Under, Vandeweghe is expected to crack the Top 20 of the WTA Rankings for the first time when the tournament is completed.
Fellow Kastles Bob and Mike Bryan also tasted victory, defeating Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6(1), 6-3 to move through to their 10th Australian Open final. The American twins played a crisp and clean match, producing 31 winners to just seven unforced errors to put the Spaniards away after 90 minutes of play.
The Bryans, who won six titles in Melbourne over an eight year period from 2006 to 2013, are looking to capture their first major trophy since triumphing at the 2014 US Open, the site of their historic 100th career team title. The two have amassed a record 16 major titles together and are seeking their 113th overall. In the final, the Bryan Brothers will face off against fourth-seeded Henri Kontinen and John Peers.
Sam Groth, a member of the 2016 Kastles squad, teammed up with fellow Australian Samantha Stosur to defeat Kastles stalwarts Martina Hingis and Leander Paes 6-3, 6-2 for a place in the mixed doubles semifinals.
All photos: Andy Cheung / arckimages.com