WTA Indian Wells: Venus Williams suffers huge scare against Peng Shuai; progresses to the quarterfinals

The fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open saw a pair of resurgent players facing off as Venus Williams managed to defeat Peng Shuai in three sets, progressing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001.

WTA Indian Wells: Venus Williams suffers huge scare against Peng Shuai; progresses to the quarterfinals
Venus Williams moves on to the quarterfinals | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Venus Williams
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Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai and Venus Williams, two veterans on the WTA tour, faced off in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open as both would want to reach the quarterfinals to add on to their list of achievements in 2017. Williams triumphed in three sets as Peng wasted a one set lead to miss the great opportunity to rise further in the rankings.

Peng runs away with the first set

It was a great start to the match for Peng as Williams had yet another slow start to the match which saw her movements hampered, unable to move around the court freely. Peng broke serve in the opening game of the match as her groundstrokes looked to be in great form and she was able to outhit Williams at the net, taking the early advantage.

Peng had the best start possible, but was pegged back later on | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Peng had the best start possible but was pegged back later on. | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Peng further affirmed that lead by consolidating the break of serve with Williams slowly coming into the match and starting to play better gradually. After getting herself onto the scoreboard with a comfortable service hold, Williams made her first breakthrough as she broke back to level the scores and return on serve, overcoming the slow start. However, Peng did not seem to be affected by the loss of her service game as this time it was her who broke serve, regaining the lead on the scoreboard.

Fending off a break point in the process, the Chinese got through a tense service game to hold and extend her lead to 4-2, where one more break of serve for Peng could well possibly seal the deal for her. Peng was just one point away from having the formidable double break lead on four different occasions in that game, but was unable to convert on any of them as Williams maintained her composure and hit some powerful groundstrokes to make up for the lack of speed on her serves, which proved deadly as Peng was helpless on break points, falling victim to Williams’ strong groundstrokes on most occasions.

Peng Shuai hits a backhand | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Peng Shuai hits a backhand | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

The American eventually held her serve in the 15-points game to lessen the deficit and prevent Peng from running away with the first set. Nevertheless, Peng still got to one game from winning the first set after she comfortably held her serve once again, mainly thanks to an abundance of unforced errors made by Williams, who gave the Chinese a 5-3 lead. Looking to serve to stay in the first set, Williams continued to make a string of unforced errors as she allowed Peng to benefit from that and gifted the first set 6-3 to her after 41 minutes of play.

Williams produces perfect reply

The start of the second set saw Williams making an immediate fightback, with Peng losing her focus a bit after winning the first set. The seven-time grand slam champion broke serve in the opening game of the second set and took the early advantage, before affirming her lead when she secured a comfortable service hold to consolidate the break.

It was clearly a struggle for the Chinese to go against the powerful offense of Williams as she faltered in the lengthy third game of the second set, being broken on her serve once more as Williams continued to stroll through the set. Peng’s rout continued in the fifth game when the American broke serve once more which got Peng panicking and starting to make more unforced errors, and also earning the chance to serve out the set.

Peng failed to take her chances well in the final set | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Peng failed to take her chances well in the final set | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

The Chinese finally stopped the rout as she broke straight back to get one of the breaks back and also to avoid the “bagel”, keeping herself in the set for at least one more game. On her serve once more, Williams earned three break points and this time they were also set points. Peng managed to create a tough resistance by saving the first two opportunities, but it was third time lucky for the American as she strolled through the second set after just a mere 34 minutes.

Venus Williams has already came from behind to triumph twice this week | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Venus Williams has already came from behind to triumph twice this week | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Williams fights from a break down

After an exchange of service holds to start the final set with, the first break point opportunity came to Peng Shuai as she maintained her composure, hitting some amazing shots. However, she was unable to make good use of her chances as she failed to convert that break point, allowing Williams to get the nervy service hold and remain on serve in the final set. With the vocal support of the huge Chinese crowd in the stands, Peng made the first breakthrough in the fifth game as unforced errors started to plague Williams once more, forcing her to gift the advantage to Peng and make her the favorite to close out the match.

Unexpectedly, Peng actually threw the lead away in the next game as Williams used the changeover to regain her composure and came out firing in the following game, breaking serve to love to return level on the scoreboard. With the momentum running in her, the Australian Open finalist broke serve once more to take the advantage for the first time in the final set, earning the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Williams did so at the first time of asking, comfortably serving out the match to 15 and therefore seal the win after 1 hour and 58 minutes.

Venus Williams would be happy with her win today | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Venus Williams would be happy with her win today | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America