Venus comes up one point short at the U.S. Open

The Daily Herald - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — Venus Wil­liams went from down and out to a point from vic­tory, then back again. In the end, she couldn’t quite get past a wo­man a dozen years younger and never be­fore at this stage of a Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

Wil­liams failed to con­vert a match point and lost 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) to 10thseeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repub­lic in the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Mon­day, de­spite vo­cif­er­ous sup­port from the Arthur Ashe Sta­dium crowd down the stretch.

“I re­ally played the per­fect point there,” the sixth-seeded Wil­liams said about her chance to end things while up 5-4 in the third set, and Pliskova serv­ing at 30-40, “and she man­aged to stay alive.”

At 36, Wil­liams would have been the old­est wo­man to reach the quar­ter­fi­nals at any ma­jor since Martina Navratilova was 37 at Wim­ble­don in 1994.

Wil­liams made it that far at Flush­ing Mead­ows a year ago, be­fore los­ing to her younger sis­ter Ser­ena. This time, they had been on course for an all-inthe-fam­ily show­down in the semi­fi­nals; Ser­ena fol­lowed Venus in Ashe and beat Yaroslava Shve­dova 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round for her 308th Grand Slam match vic­tory, break­ing a tie with Roger Fed­erer for most in the Open era, which dates to 1968.

Pliskova man­aged, just barely, to make it to her first Grand Slam quar­ter­fi­nal at age 24. Un­til this tour­na­ment, she never had been past the third round in 17 ap­pear­ances at ma­jors.

“I was pre­pared that I’m go­ing to play Venus — it’s go­ing to be tough, be­cause all the peo­ple are cheer­ing for her,” said Pliskova, who leads the tour in aces in 2016 and pro­duced eight in this match.

Pliskova faces 92ndranked Ana Kon­juh, an 18-year-old from Croa­tia who up­set No. 4 Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska 6-4, 6-4 by com­pil­ing a 38-9 edge in win­ners. Also reach­ing the quar­ter­fi­nals with a vic­tory Mon­day was 2014 French Open run­nerup Si­mona Halep, who elim­i­nated No. 11 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 7-5. Now it’s Halep’s turn to try to deal with the serve of Ser­ena Wil­liams, who reached a tour­na­mentbest 126 mph, de­liv­ered 11 aces and won 28 of 30 first-serve points against Shve­dova.

In men’s ac­tion, 2009 cham­pion Juan Martin del Potro be­came the low­est-ranked man in the U.S. Open quar­ter­fi­nals in 25 years, ad­vanc­ing when No. 8 seed Do­minic Thiem stopped in the sec­ond set be­cause of an in­jured right knee.

Del Potro missed 2½ years’ worth of ma­jor tour­na­ments be­cause of a trio of op­er­a­tions on his left wrist, so he’s ranked just 142nd. Jimmy Con­nors was 174th when he made a stir­ring run to the semi­fi­nals in New York at age 39 in 1991.

The 2012 ti­tle win­ner at Flush­ing Mead­ows, Andy Mur­ray, eased into the quar­ter­fi­nals for the 22nd time in his past 23 ma­jors, beat­ing No. 22 Grigor Dim­itrov 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at night. Mur­ray now faces 2014 run­ner-up Kei Nishikori, who ad­vanced by beat­ing No. 21 Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Mur­ray de­feated Nishikori in the semi­fi­nals of the Rio Olympics last month en route to an un­prece­dented sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sin­gles gold medal.

Del Potro has been play­ing as well as ever lately, win­ning the sil­ver in Rio and pick­ing up re­cent vic­to­ries over No­vak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.

In the quar­ter­fi­nals, del Potro’s op­po­nent will be No. 3 Wawrinka, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 win­ner against Illya Marchenko.

“He will be the fa­vorite to win in that match,” said del Potro, who beat Wawrinka at Wim­ble­don.

“But,” del Potro added, “any­thing can hap­pen in this event for me. I got the power from the crowd in ev­ery match.”

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