Venus Williams, Federer through to semis in Australia
Melbourne, Australia — It was a long time coming for Venus Williams, who reached her 21st Grand Slam semifinal but her first at the Australian Open in 14 years.
CoCo Vandeweghe advanced to her first major semifinal, anywhere, beating Grand Slam winners in back-to-back rounds. The one sure outcome when they meet this week will be an American in the final at Melbourne Park.
There’ll be an all-Swiss semifinal in the top half of the men’s draw after 17-time major winner Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka won their quarterfinals in straight sets.
Returning from a six-month injury layoff, the 35-year-old Federer lifted his game in 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 win over Mischa Zverev, the player who eliminated top-seeded Andy Murray from the tournament two nights earlier.
Federer won the first five games in 12 minutes, setting up a straight-forward win to reach his 41st Grand Slam semifinal and his 13th at Melbourne Park.
“I’m pleased with the way I started the match … after that, naturally everything’s easier,” Federer said. “Second set was definitely a key to shut it down for him. Then in the third set I think I was rolling.”
The 36-year-old Williams beat No. 24-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Tuesday, becoming the oldest player to reach the semifinals here in the Open era.
She’ll be meeting a confident Vandeweghe, who dictated play against French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in a 6-4, 6-0 quarterfinal win.
The No. 35-ranked Vandeweghe upset top-ranked Angelique Kerber, who won the Australian and U.S. titles last year, in the fourth round. She followed it up with another commanding win, the 10th in her career against a Top 10 player.
Vandeweghe saved the only break point she faced in the first set with an ace, and only conceded 10 points in the 28-minute second set. Of her 31 winners, 14 were from her powerful forehand side.
“Once I got rolling in the second, it was like a freight train,” she said, “You couldn’t stop it.”
Reaching a semifinal against the U.S. Open champion was more than Federer expected in his first major back.
“Not to play Stan in the semis, I’ll tell you that,” he said when asked what his expectations were. “I thought I was going to maybe make a few rounds.”
Wawrinka, who had his major breakthrough in Australia in 2014, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3 — his fourth straight win against the Frenchman.
On Wednesday, the men’s semifinalists from the other side of the draw will be determined when 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal plays Milos Raonic and David Goffin takes on Grigor Dimitrov.
Serena Williams, aiming for a record 23rd Grand Slam title, plays Johanna Konta and Karolina Pliskova meets Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the remaining women’s quarterfinals.
Venus Williams has advanced through the tournament without dropping a set, and isn’t ready to stop in the semifinals in the latest installment of her career revival.
“It’s wonderful to start the year out with this appearance,” said Venus Williams, who hadn’t reached the semifinals in Australia since 2003, the year she lost the final to sister Serena. “I want to go further. I’m not happy just with this. But I’m so happy to be in the position to like go further.”
Williams didn’t reach the quarterfinals at any of the Grand Slams from 2011 — when she was diagnosed with the Sjogren’s syndrome, which saps energy and causes joint pain — until the 2015 Australian Open. She lost in the first round here last year, but returned to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon.
Vandeweghe also lost in the first round here last year, and at the U.S. Open in September, but has found her form in Melbourne this year. As well as the wins over Kerber and Muguruza, she has had wins over No. 15-seeded Roberta Vinci and Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the semifinals here and the final at Wimbledon in 2014.
Williams said the quarterfinal results were a “great win for the U.S.”
“I’m sure (Vandeweghe is) going to want to be in her first final,” Williams said. “I’m going to want to be in only my second final here. So it’s going to be a well-contested match.”
With her run to the Wimbledon semifinals last year, Williams became the oldest woman since Martina Navratilova (at 37 years, 258 days) in 1994 to advance so far at a major.
There’s also the possibility of another all-Williams final.
But Venus doesn’t plan to be thinking about who was on the other side of the net. She is focused on Grand Slam title No. 8.
“I try to believe,” she said. “I’d like to be a champion, in particular this year. The mentality I walk on court with is: ‘I deserve this.'"