Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams recovered from a set down to defeat Qiang Wang in her previous match on No.1 Court. Nonetheless, the five-time Wimbledon champion had a tough match against Naomi Osaka. Osaka is only 19 years old but she has the potential to be a future Grand Slam champion.
The 37-year-old is one of the favorites to clinch the Venus Rosewater Dish. She is only remaining player left in the draw who has lifted that coveted title. The American's victory over Osaka means that she has reached the second week at a Grand Slam for sixth consecutive time. It is a run dating back to last year's French Open. Williams will be bidding to reach another quarterfinal on Manic Monday when she takes on 27th seed Ana Konjuh. The Croat ousted two-time quarterfinalist and eighth seed Dominika Cibulkova in three sets.
Williams snatches a tight opening set
The five-time Wimbledon champion opened proceedings on No.1 Court setting the tone of the match with an easy hold to move her scoreboard in the right direction. Moreover, Osaka had some problems on her first service game but she produced some booming aces and clinched the second game of the match with a body serve.
Following, a quick hold to love for the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Williams broke Osaka's serve in the next game at the third time of asking. Both players were striking the ball sweetly, and the former world number one consolidated the break easily by sending down an ace down the T, leading 4-1.
Moreover, Osaka did not let that bother her as she held serve quickly in the next game, and she broke the 10th seed's serve to get the match back on level terms after continuous good hitting and Williams meekly handed the break back by committing unforced errors on the forehand side.
The former world number 40 reduced the arrears from 4-1 to Williams to 4-4, after holding her serve quickly by serving big and not letting the 37-year-old dictate play. Moreover, after winning the fifth game of the match, the five-time champion got back on the board after serving well, to lead 5-4.
Both players continued to demonstrate their good serving with both of the next couples of games, holding to love. Furthermore, the unseeded player from Japan, now coached by Sam Stosur's former coach David Taylor. Osaka raced out to a 40-0 lead, however, she almost paid the price as she was taken to deuce and two points away from losing the opening set.
Osaka remained composed and took the opening set to a tiebreak by producing a backhand winner down the line.
Osaka got off to a dream start in the tiebreak as she produced three back-to-back scorching winners down the line from the backhand and forehand side to lead 3-0. Unfortunately, from that moment it went downhill for the 19-year-old. Williams produced her one-two combination of a backhand down the line, and a drive volley winner and she won the next point to remain in touch with Osaka.
Moreover, the five-time champion got back into the tiebreak and took control of it by leading 4-3 as Osaka committed untimely unforced errors. The former world number one was in the ascendancy, and the experience came through as she won seven consecutive points to clinch the opening set tiebreak, 7-6 (3) in 47 minutes by producing a crushing forehand winner down the line.
Williams books her place in the second week at SW19 for the 15th time
The world number 59 put the disappointing of losing the opening set tiebreak behind her by holding serve easily to lead 1-0 in the second set. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion moved the scoreboard in the right direction in her first service game in the second set.
Osaka continued to have luck on her side in the second set as she produced a half-volley winner at the net with the net cord aiding the ball going over the net to lead 2-1. Furthermore, the former world number one played a poor game in the match as she committed three double faults in one game, and had to save a break point. Williams got out of that game unscathed to level the match at 2-2.
The Japanese player continued to remain fearless as she continued to serve well, and her blistering groundstrokes were keeping the 10th seed at bay. Moreover, the former world number one was trailing behind on the scoreboard, she continued to do things right on her side of the court. Williams remained aggressive by serving out wide and producing a low backhand winner down the line, leveling the game at 3-3.
Furthermore, the turning point of the match came in the seventh game of the second set as Osaka made costly errors which proved to be pivotal. The American failed to convert her first break point chance as Osaka snuffed it out with another big serve. However, a second one quickly arrived as Williams' defense was outstanding causing Osaka to make more errors. A good return of serve done the trick for Williams as Osaka committed a wild error on the backhand side.
The former world number one consolidated the break to lead 5-3 and put the pressure immediately back on the Japanese player. It seemed as though that the top 60 player's Wimbledon was over at 0-30 down as Williams upped her level and produced two back-to-back crushing drive volley winners.
A gutsy second service ace got the game to 15-30, and Osaka held onto her serve in style by producing an ace down the T, followed by a drive volley winner to put the pressure back on Williams. The former world number one continued to remain aggressive and play tennis on her terms. The five-time champion ensured that her quest for a sixth title at SW19 continued. She produced an ace down the T to reach the fourth round, 7-6(3), 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes.
By the numbers
Both players produced big numbers in the match between big hitters on No.1 Court. Osaka produced eight aces and committed only two double faults, in contrast to Williams who produced five aces and five double faults. Crucially, the former world number one got 58 percent of the points on her first serve in and won 82 percent of the points on it.
However, where the match was won and lost, was that the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion produced 21 winners, and committed 14 unforced errors. Whilst, Osaka produced 28 winners and 21 unforced errors. The former world number one will have been pleased to have got through that tough test. It gets her ready for another match with a big hitter against 27th seed Ana Konjuh.