Top seed Venus Williams continued her fine form in Asia, defeating Anastasija Sevastova 7-5, 6-2 in a titanic quarter final battle to book her place in the last four of the 2016 Taiwan Open. Williams will now play Yulia Putintseva for a spot in her 79th WTA singles final, where she will be looking to win her 49th title.
Williams Comes From A Double Break Down to Steal Opening Set
Beginning the match on the front foot, it was surprisingly the Latvian underdog who exploded out of the blocks, breaking the top seed to open proceedings before consolidating the early break with relative ease. Williams, however, is no stranger to slow starts, and appeared to have found her rhythm when she responded with a hold and a break of her own, thus restoring parity at 2-all.
Sevastova, in contrast, had different ideas. The Latvian number two was unfazed by the seven-time Grand Slam champion’s fightback, and soon found herself back up a break as some loose unforced errors began to creep back into Williams’ game. Leading 3-2, Sevastova was forced to save two break points but did so with some strong, deep hitting, and would go on to extend her lead to 4-2. Things quickly went from bad to worse for Williams, who quickly found herself down 0-40 in the game that followed suit and despite her best efforts, she was unable to save the third break point, consequently handing a 5-2 lead and double break advantage to Sevastova.
Unfortunately for the Latvian, her good fortune would stop there as she struggled to close out the opening set. On the other hand, Williams was beginning to grow in confidence with every point she won, and would ultimately recover the double break to restore parity at 5-all, saving two set points in the process. From there, the former world number one found herself in front for the first time leading 6-5, and continued that momentum to break Sevastova, thus winning the set 7-5 by the skin of her teeth.
Williams Races Away with Second Set
Shortly after the first three games of the set went with serve, it was Williams who drew first blood in the fourth game, reasserting her authority with some aggressive hitting. However, Sevastova was not going to go away so lightly, and responded with an immediate break back. But when push came to shove, the Latvian faltered, and Williams broke once more - this time at love - to open up a sizeable 4-2 lead. From there, she consolidated the break, and soon found herself within touching distance of the finish line. It took two tries but at the second time of asking, the seven-time Grand Slam champion closed out a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2 victory as another unforced error flew off of Sevastova's racquet.
"I didn't think about the set points, I just tried to not lose the set," Williams said regarding the opening set. "But she was playing really well and was very determined so it wasn't easy to play her."
"From there, I think the experience really helped me and there was a lot of pressure on her. I just tried to do whatever was winning! If it's not working you change it - so that's the strategy."