I de­serve this, says Venus, as she reaches semis

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

MELBOURNE: Venus Wil­liams said she was by no means fin­ished yet after swat­ting aside Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkova to march into the semi-finals of the Aus­tralian Open for the first time since 2003 yes­ter­day.

Nine­teen years after mak­ing her Aus­tralian Open de­but, the 36-year-old cashed in on the ex­pe­ri­ence of 73 grand slams to set up a meet­ing with an­other 25-year-old in fel­low Amer­i­can Coco Van­deweghe.

“To me, the semi-finals is a step­ping stone, just like the other rounds,” she said.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to ad­vance. The tour­na­ment is by no means over. It’s def­i­nitely down to the busi­ness end.

“I feel like I’m play­ing the kind of ten­nis I want, to pro­duce the re­sults that I want.”

A ti­tle tilt against her sis­ter Ser­ena is still on the cards if she gets past Van­deweghe but for all her pa­tri­o­tism and sis­terly love, Venus is think­ing only of her­self.

“Should I look across the net and be­lieve the per­son across the net de­serves it more?” she asked. “This men­tal­ity is not how cham­pi­ons are made. I’d like to be a cham­pion, in par­tic­u­lar this year.

“The men­tal­ity I walk on court with is: I de­serve this.”

The 13th seed has stretched an im­pres­sive re­turn to form that be­gan with a quar­ter-fi­nal berth here in 2015 and in­cluded a run to the Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nals last year.

Pa­lyuchenkova was im­pressed.

“It was kind of sur­pris­ing for me how in great form she is now,” she said.

“Like, she’s play­ing good, mov­ing well, very solid on the base­line, very ag­gres­sive. Of course, she’s serv­ing well.

“She just also wasn’t giv­ing me much of a rhythm be­cause she was ei­ther mak­ing win­ners or easy mis­takes. So that was not easy for me.”

Venus, who wrapped up a vic­tory against Van­deweghe in two sets at their first meet in Rome last year, is ex­pect­ing a bat­tle of power and strength.

“To have that thought that there’s go­ing to be at least one US player in the fi­nal is great for Amer­i­can ten­nis,” Venus said.

“I’m sure she’s go­ing to want to be in her first fi­nal. I’m go­ing to want to be in only my sec­ond fi­nal here. So it’s go­ing to be a well-con­tested match.”

Mean­while, four-times cham­pion Roger Fed­erer con­tin­ued to roll back the years as he took apart Mis­cha Zverev 6-1 7-5 6-2 with a clin­i­cal dis­play of all-court ten­nis to reach his 13th Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal in 92 min­utes yes­ter­day.

Chas­ing an 18th grand slam ti­tle, and first since 2012, the 35-year-old Fed­erer neutered his left-handed Ger­man op­po­nent’s serve-vol­ley game to set up a last-four meet­ing with fel­low Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

“I think it def­i­nitely went as good as it pos­si­bly could have gone,” Fed­erer told re­porters.

“I had to adapt my style. It was a nice match. I think I played great.”

Look­ing in form as im­pe­ri­ous as in his hey­day of a decade ago de­spite miss­ing the back half of last sea­son after knee surgery, Fed­erer is now one match away from a po­ten­tial fi­nal against his old ri­val Rafa Nadal.

Wawrinka, the 2014 cham­pion, will want to have a say about that as will Nadal’s quar­ter-fi­nal op­po­nent, Mi­los Raonic.

But with both Wil­liams sis­ters also still stand­ing in the women’s draw, it would be easy to imag­ine it was 2007 not 2017 at Melbourne Park.

Zverev’s serve-and-vol­ley game is a throw­back to an even ear­lier era and the world num­ber 50 con­trib­uted fully to an en­ter­tain­ing, if brief, con­test with his fine vol­ley­ing and net play.

The un­ortho­dox game helped the left-han­der beat world num­ber one Andy Mur­ray on Sun­day, one of two stun­ning up­sets along with the early exit of No­vak Djokovic which have opened up the draw for Fed­erer and Nadal.

Fed­erer has been such an ex­tra­or­di­nary player that he has all but lost the abil­ity to shock with his feats on court.

Andy Rod­dick, who was in­ducted into the ten­nis Hall of Fame yes­ter­day and lost a Melbourne semi-fi­nal to Fed­erer a decade ago, of­fered some wel­come per­spec­tive.

“Ev­ery­one here is go­ing to talk about it in ev­ery story they write for the rest of this tour­na­ment, and I still don’t know if that’s enough,” the Amer­i­can told re­porters. “It’s pretty amaz­ing.” – Reuters

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