Top seed Venus Williams battled past third seed Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-3 on a hot and humid day at the 2016 Taiwan Open. In order to win her 49th WTA singles title, Williams will have to overcome Misaki Doi, who needed just 54 minutes to beat Hsieh Su-Wei in the preceding semi final.
Williams Recovers from Late Setback to Take Opening Set
Right from the off, both players were extremely intense and focused as they knew the many challenges that the other presented. After exchanging a pair of holds to open the match, Putintseva created three break points for herself but to her dismay, she was unable to convert any of them, and Williams made her pay for it.
Shortly after digging out of those three break points to open up a 2-1 lead, it was the top seed who was beginning to turn up the heat from the receiving end, breaking at the second time of asking to extend her lead to 3-1. From there, holds of serve were exchanged until Williams served for the set at 5-3.
Noticeably apprehensive, the 35-year-old struggled to close out the set on her terms, and Putintseva took full advantage. Within a matter of minutes, the Kazakh number one went from being a break down to restore parity at 5-all. Despite the slight shift in momentum, Williams regrouped and calmly edged her nose back in front to lead 6-5, hitting a trio of big serves in the process.
In the game that followed suit, Putintseva seemed to have the early edge but when push came to shove, the third seed faltered, hitting a trio of untimely unforced errors including one on Williams' second set point to hand the top seed the opening set 7-5 in 50 minutes.
Williams Grabs Decisive Break to Seal Victory in Straight Sets
In contrast to the first set, the second set began with a pair of breaks, as both women struggled to find their first serves. However, once the set progressed, order was restored as the following three games were all won by the server, but there was a master class of powerful hitting on full display for the passionate Taiwanese fans in each and every one of those service games. But often times in women's professional tennis, it was only a matter of time until breaks of serve returned. and it was no surprise that both women felt more comfortable on the receiving end as opposed to the service line.
After exchanging a pair of breaks, Williams, who was leading 4-3, was looking to continue the trend with a break of her own, which would put her in prime position to win in straight sets. As the stakes got higher, so did the level of the former world number one, and it was only a matter of time until she broke once more and earned herself a chance to serve for the victory.
In a drama-filled ninth game, Williams earned herself a match point but Putintseva refused to back down, sticking to her guns and hitting massive forehands to save the first match point. Just a couple points later, the 21-year-old was rewarded with a break point to get back on serve, but Williams fended it off with her signature one-two punch. Not long thereafter, the top seed repeated the same pattern of play successfully to give herself another match point, and this time, she made no mistake. As Putintseva overcooked a forehand, Williams sealed a comprehensive 7-5, 6-3 victory in an hour and 41 minutes.
"What a tough opponent today," Williams said of Putintseva after the match. "She has so much energy. It was very difficult to win, but I'm very glad to be in the final tomorrow."
In the showpiece, Williams will meet second seed Misaki Doi, who defeated home favourite and sixth seed Hsieh Su-Wei in 54 minutes earlier in the day.
"I've never played her before," Williams said of Doi. "I have no idea what to expect."
"But to be in the final, you have to play well, so I'm sure to expect the best tennis from her."