NEW YORK, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Venus Williams rolled back the years to knock out Petra Kvitova and set up a U.S. Open semi-final clash with unseeded compatriot Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, remaining on track for a place in her third grand slam final of 2017.
The 37-year-old needed 154 minutes and plenty of grit to down a battling Kvitova 6-3 3-6 7-6(2) as she kept alive her hopes of winning her first major since Wimbledon in 2008.
Williams, who won two of her eight grand slam titles at the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001, began slowly and was down 3-1 before breaking Kvitova’s serve twice to take the first set.
Kvitova, on the comeback trail after sustaining a career-threatening injury during a home invasion late last year, hit back to force a third set but was unable to match her opponent’s composure in the decisive tiebreak.
Williams closed out the match to the delight of a noisy crowd at Arthur Ashe stadium but found time to pay tribute to her Czech opponent immediately after her triumph.
“Everything she’s gone through ... It’s unbelievable. It’s wonderful to see her back and play amazing. I’m so fortunate to have won that match,” said Williams.
Next up for Williams is another comeback kid in 16th seed Stephens, who only began her season at Wimbledon after foot surgery sidelined her for nearly a year.
The 24-year-old edged past 16th seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) to become the first American woman apart from the Williams sisters to make the U.S. Open last four since 2004.
“I’m getting teary eyed, this is incredible,” said Stephens, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 2013.
“When I started my comeback before Wimbledon, I could have never even dreamed of having these results in my home slam, at my favorite tournament. It’s indescribable.”
Two more Americans can join Williams and Stephens in the last four with Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Keys in quarter-finals action on Wednesday.
In the men’s draw, Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta reached his first grand slam singles semi-final when he swatted aside Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-4 6-2 in just under two hours.
Busta, who hit 30 winners in the lopsided contest, has not dropped a set in this tournament and next faces South African Kevin Anderson, who outlasted American Sam Querrey 7-6(5) 6-7(9) 6-3 7-6(7) to reach his maiden grand slam semi-final.
Highlights from day nine of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Tuesday (times GMT):
- South Africa’s Kevin Anderson ended the run of local hope Sam Querrey with a 7-6(5) 6-7(9) 6-3 7-6(7) victory in three hours and 26 minutes.
- Anderson recorded 22 aces and 67 winners to reach his first grand slam semi-final. He faces another first-time major semi-finalist in Spain’s 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
0157 VENUS ENDS KVITOVA’S RUN TO ENTER SEMI-FINALS
- Ninth-seeded American Venus Williams battled past Czech Republic’s 13th-seeded Petra Kvitova 6-3 3-6 7-6(2)to enter the semi-finals.
- Williams hit five aces and 21 winners in a match lasting two hours and 34 minutes.
- American Sloane Stephens edged past 16th seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) to book her place in the semi-finals.
Stephens became the first unseeded U.S. woman to reach the final four at Flushing Meadows since Venus Williams in 1997.
Carreno Busta downs Schwartzman to reach U.S. Open semis
Querrey working to end title drought for American men at U.S. Open
U.S. Open order of play on Tuesday
Four things to watch out for on Day Nine of the U.S. Open
Williams leads American charge at U.S. Open
Meet Kelsey Anderson, the woman behind South Africa’s No. 1
- Spain’s 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-4 6-2 to reach his first grand slam singles semi-final.
The 26-year-old Carreno Busta is yet to drop a set at the U.S. Open this year.
1815 SPANISH DUO ADVANCE TO SEMI-FINALS
- Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez reached the men’s doubles semi-finals with a 6-4 7-5 win over Dutch pairing Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop.
1700 KONTINEN-PEERS THROUGH TO DOUBLES SEMIS
- Top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers enjoyed a 6-3 6-4 victory over American Nicholas Monroe and Australian John Patrick-Smith in the men’s doubles quarter-finals.
- The Finnish-Aussie duo, who won the Australian Open, have yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows.
1615 QUARTER-FINALS UNDERWAY AT FLUSHING MEADOWS
- Four quarter-finals will be played at the Arthur Ashe stadium with 12th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta kicking off the action against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.
- Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, who knocked out Russian Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, will play American Sloane Stephens.
- Ninth-seeded American Venus Williams continues her quest for a third home grand-slam title against the resurgent Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic.
- Home favourite Sam Querrey takes on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the final singles match of the day.
Compiled by Hardik Vyas and Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Clare Fallon and Toby Davis