It is a different era as compared to the 2000s, but yet, the legendary Venus Williams keeps rocking it after her two Grand Slam final appearances this year as she reaches the final of the 2017 WTA Finals with a thrilling win over the 24-year-old Caroline Garcia in three tough sets, returning to the final after a nine-year absence. Dictating play with her aggressive style of tennis, the American fended off the inspired performance of the Frenchwoman, ultimately triumphing with a 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline after two hours and 32 minutes of play.
Williams on a great run
Williams was the second-ranked player in the White Group, having bounced back from an opening day defeat against Karolina Pliskova. She prevailed in a thriller against Jelena Ostapenko, triumphing after three hours and 13 minutes of play and she proved that her Grand Slam runs were no flukes by defeating Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets for a place in the semifinals.
Garcia powers to an early start but gets pegged back
Williams’ footwork looked way off in the opening game but was still able to come up with several big winners. Nonetheless, Garcia was the more active player in the early stages, grabbing the confidence-boosting hold. Williams, as expected, got off to a slow start as she failed to find her first serves at all, allowing the Frenchwoman to pounce on those slow second serves and take the early break. However, the American was able to break straight back with a fantastic forehand down-the-line winner on break point.
Tight affair with neither able to break serve
Both players became incredibly solid on their serves as the match progressed, but Williams was still more the shaky player as Garcia earned yet another break point in the sixth game. The Frenchwoman sent a backhand wide, with Williams ultimately hanging onto her serve. Garcia’s service games were simply untouchable as her invincible first serves were too good for her legendary opponent.
It was a break point galore in the next couple of games as both Williams and Garcia came up with some merciless returns on second serves. The Beijing and Wuhan champion once again had the golden opportunity to take the lead, but Williams’ years of experience proved its worth when she dug out of a 15-40 deficit to hold for 4-4.
Garcia seals the first set 7-6
The American then had to save a set point while serving to stay in the set at 4-5, but an incredible 16-shot rally saved Williams from the brink, and she eventually survived the marathon game for 5-5. The set was then brought into a tiebreak to decide its winner, but Williams had a very poor start as she threw in two double-faults on her first service points. Although Garcia also committed some errors of her own, she was quick to regain her composure and eventually closed out the set after an hour and five minutes of play.
Perfect start for Venus
It was a tricky start to the second set for Williams as many thought that she would run out of steam, conceding two break points in the opening game. Garcia would have rued her missed opportunities in this game, especially when Williams went on to steamroll through the second set, having gone too big for a return of a 115 km/h second serve. Garcia was broken to love in the following game before the American managed to consolidate the break for a commanding 3-0 lead.
Williams seals the second set
Only one break of serve separated the two of them on the scoreboard, and it went on serve all the way until the seventh game where Garcia threatened to break back. However, she was still unable to capitalize on her opportunities as Williams threw in an impressive second serve and held for 5-2, being just a game away from winning the second set. A lengthy game saw Garcia serve to stay in the match but her nerves overwhelmed her as Williams eventually prevailed to send the encounter into a deciding set.
Tight decider with seven straight holds
The final set was extremely tight as both players were just too solid on their serves and neither was able to find a breakthrough on the return. There were no break points in the first seven games of the final set, but Williams’ experience certainly played a part as she took the crucial break of serve in the eighth game. In the biggest semifinal of her career, Garcia faltered under the pressure when being the second player to serve, which meant that she had to play catch-up all the time.
Williams steals the win
A huge backhand down-the-line finally sealed the break for the American, who earned the golden opportunity to serve for the match. Unforced errors were the major downfall for Williams, who soon found herself down 0-40 on her serve. However, the best serves from Williams were only produced during the critical moments as she served an ace, which barely clipped the line, but Garcia also tensed up during these situations as she sent yet another big forehand return wide. Ultimately, Garcia hit a backhand into the net as Williams finally sealed the win after two hours and 32 minutes, much to the delight of the enthusiastic Singapore crowd.