Venus Williams’ incredible run at the 2017 WTA Finals continues after she beat her nemesis Garbiñe Muguruza in straight sets for the much-needed victory, which allowed her to qualify for the semifinals for the fifth time in as many appearances in the year-end Championships. The American finishes second in the White Group and will now face the top player in the Red Group, which will either be Caroline Wozniacki or Caroline Garcia. This loss also ended Muguruza’s chances of ending the year as the world number one.
The legendary American into the semifinals
Williams started her Singapore campaign in the worst possible way, falling 2-6, 2-6 to world number three Karolina Pliskova in her opening match. With her chances of qualifying getting slimmer, the legendary seven-time Grand Slam champion was able to triumph in a three-hour thriller against Jelena Ostapenko with a 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 scoreline, setting up a blockbuster win-or-bust clash against Muguruza. The Spaniard had won both of their meetings this year, most notably in the Wimbledon final, but Williams was able to exact revenge as she sealed her spot in the semifinals of the prestigious tournament, and she is still looking for her first title of the year.
Tight start to the match
Choosing the receive in the opening game, the confidence of Muguruza was certainly diminished having suffered a drubbing by Pliskova two days ago. Surprisingly, Williams was simply clinical on her serve in the early stages, powering to a confidence-boosting and comfortable service hold. The Spaniard was in some trouble in her first service game, failing to find the groove on her groundstrokes as Williams earned a break point. Nonetheless, the reigning Wimbledon champion was able to hold her nerves and get on the scoreboard.
Williams takes the first set
Both Muguruza and Williams needed to fend off break points on their serves, with a total of four break point opportunities being wasted by both in the opening six games of the match. However, Williams’ inability to consistently find her first serves ultimately caused her to be broken first, with the depth on the Spaniard’s groundstrokes causing some trouble for her opponent. Nonetheless, the American then played her best return game of the set, breaking straight back to level the scores.
Holding serve in a nervy game for a 5-4 lead, Williams knew that she had to remain tough mentally considering that she lost nine straight games from having the same lead during the Wimbledon final against the same player. Muguruza had to serve to stay in the set at 5-6 down, but the pressure ultimately overwhelmed her as some cheap unforced errors gifted Williams the first set after 56 minutes of play.
Muguruza gets pegged back
Determined to produce a fightback, Muguruza had the perfect start to the match as Williams was unable to match up against the Spaniard in terms of speed around the court, getting broken in the opening game despite putting up a tough fight. However, Muguruza’s unforced errors started to come back and haunt her as she wasted two game points and instead allowed Williams to break straight back, missing out on the golden opportunity to consolidate the break.
A third consecutive break went to Muguruza, and this time she held on for a commanding 3-1 lead as the second set seemed to be heading towards the Spaniard's way. Falling behind 0-30 in her service game, it was all but over for Williams in the set as all the momentum was with Muguruza, who found it relatively smooth-sailing. Unexpectedly, the American fought her way back and lessened the deficit to just one game with a confidence-boosting service hold.
Williams seals the win
After a series of breaks, the scores were deadlocked at 4-4 with both players still trying to look for another breakthrough. Williams put in her best serving performance of the set to clinch just her second hold in the second set, jumping out to a 5-4 lead with Muguruza facing the pressure of serving to stay in the match. The nerves and pressure of the game certainly got to the Spaniard, with Williams eventually sealing the incredible win after a netted forehand from her opponent, claiming a semifinal spot after an hour and 43 minutes of play.