NEW YORK – Venus Williams, a two-time U.S. Open champion, reached the tournament's semifinals for the first time since 2010 on Tuesday after beating Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) in two hours and 34 minutes.
In the opening set, No. 9-seed Williams dropped her serve at 1-1, gifting Kvitova an early break by double faulting three times. But after Kvitova held serve to extend her lead to 3-1, Williams roared back, winning the next five games and elating the largely pro-Venus crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams’s backhand was especially effective, netting her three groundstroke winners and no unforced errors.
In the second set, No. 13-seed Kvitova built a 3-0 lead over Williams before it began to lightly drizzle on the court. After a short stoppage to close the roof over Arthur Ashe stadium in anticipation of storms, Williams won the first game to cut the lead to 3-1. But then Kvitova started to zone in and, punctuated by a big roar of “Pojd!” and a spirited fist pump, fired two aces from 30-all to take the game for 4-1 in the second set. After saving five break points and one hour and 27 minutes of play, the Czech hit a 108 mph ace to take the second set and force a decider on Arthur Ashe.
Given their history—Kvitova led their head-to-head 4-1 going into the match, with all of the matches going three sets—it was no surprise that Tuesday night’s quarterfinal match was going to go the distance. It was also no surprise that the match was decided in a tiebreak: in their three previous meetings, the final set scorelines were 7-5, 7-6(7) and 7-6(2).
With the Ashe crowd behind her in the final set tiebreak, Williams willed her way to a 5-1 lead and when Kvitova sailed a return wide for 6-2, the American sealed the victory.
"If you can imagine the quality of this match was high, I would say the others were even higher," Williams said of her past battles against Kvitova. "A lot of times in those matches I just felt a little unlucky. Like she would hit these amazing shots out of nowhere, and all I could do was say, 'Well done.' I never really did anything wrong in those matches.
"Sometimes you have opportunities and sometimes you take them and you don't, but it's not like you get opportunity after opportunity after opportunity in these sorts of matches. You have to take the ones you have. I was happy to have a little more luck today, actually."
With the win, Williams advances to her 23rd major semifinal of her career, and fourth semifinal in the last six majors played. She'll fact Sloane Stephens, who defeated No. 16-seed Sevastova earlier in the day on Tuesday. By beating Kvitova, the 37-year-old is also the sole Grand Slam champion left in the women's field. Williams will also return to the top 5 for the first time since January 2011.