I deserve this, says Venus, as she reaches semis
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