The quarterfinals of the Australian Open saw Venus Williams defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her first semifinal here in Melbourne since 2003. It was generally a tight match with many momentum shifts and breaks of service and was concluded only after 105 minutes despite it being a straight sets match. Williams now has a great chance to reach the final as she faces fellow American Coco Vandeweghe, a surprise figure in the second week, in the semifinals after she outclassed Garbine Muguruza in straight sets.
Williams wins tight first set
It was a tense start to the match as Pavlyuchenkova managed to earn a break point in just the opening game of the match, but lost it after missing a forehand which eventually allowed Williams to hold serve. Pavlyuchenkova was trying to be offensive on her service, and that proved effective in the early stages of the match as she held her serve comfortably to get herself onto the scoreboard. The Russian then took her second break point of the match at 1-1 with a wonderful backhand return winner to go up an early lead.
Two double faults proved costly as Pavlyuchenkova lost the break as soon as possible, with Williams returning on serve. We did not have to wait for a long time before there was the next break of serve as Pavlyuchenkova was once again the one who made the breakthrough by breaking serve at 3-3 after some inconsistent forehands by Williams handed the break to the Russian.
The former world number 13 then lost the break once again, when Williams managed to have the rhythm on her forehand side, which started to flourish as it played a major part in breaking serve. Pavlyuchenkova soon found herself serving to stay in the set despite having the lead at 4-3 with a break of service, and crumbled to the pressure in her first ever Australian Open quarterfinal to eventually lose the first set after 39 minutes.
Williams seals place in the quarterfinals
The 36-year-old Williams closed out the opening game of the final set with an ace to get off to a perfect start before Pavlyuchenkova saved three break points in a marathon 15-minutes game to get an encouraging hold of service. Some solid groundstrokes then gave Pavlyuchenkova yet another service break to gain the advantage and was once again unable to keep the lead as Williams made an immediate reply by breaking straight back. Identical to the first set, the Russian made another breakthrough when the scoreline was at 3-3 as the seven-time grand slam champion started to gift unforced errors to her opponent.
Pavlyuchenkova was particularly disappointing when she had the chance to consolidate the break of serve as she was broken every single time just right after she broke service to gift the advantage back. The set was eventually extended to a tiebreak to decide its winner as both players were solid on their serves in the latter stages of the set. Pavlyuchenkova earned a mini-break at the start of the tiebreak to have the advantage once again and looked to extend the match into a deciding set. From being 3-1 up in the tiebreak, Pavlyuchenkova’s game literally crumbled as she lost six points in a row (with three being unforced errors) to lose the match after 1 hour and 47 minutes.