WUHAN, China: Venus Williams beat Roberta Vinci in a closely fought three set match Friday, settling a score on behalf of her sister Serena, to reach the Wuhan Open finals.
The seven-time Grand Slam-winner was a match point down to the Italian at one stage, but eventually saw her off in a final set tie-break.
“I mean [there were]a lot of ups and downs. I hope that on a day when I’m playing how I’d like it’s a more straightforward match. She’s definitely tricky. She finds a way to hang in there,” said Williams.
Williams looked comfortable going into the third set, securing a 4-1 lead over Vinci.
But the shock US Open finalist pushed back, evening the score before finally falling to the American veteran 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).
“I’m of course really sad because I lost. But if I think all the tournament (it) is okay. I played incredible, won four matches here, (a) semi final, 7-6 in the third against Venus,” said a stoic Vinci.
It was Vinci’s second consecutive semifinals meet against a member of the Williams family, after downing world number one Serena in the US Open, an upset that denied her a calendar-year Grand Slam and a record-equaling 22nd major title.
“If I could I would give this win to Serena at the US Open, but it doesn’t work like that in tennis,” Williams said on court after the match.
Williams—who with 46 career titles has more wins to her name than the other semi-finalists combined — will face Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza on Saturday.
Muguruza downed Germany’s Angelique Kerber in two sets 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), despite falling during the second set tie-break and injuring her ankle.
“I knew (it) was going to be a very physical match. You know, (I’m) happy to be able to win in two sets because I never win against her in two sets,” said Muguruza.
The 21-year-old Spaniard and world number eight entered the semifinals as the highest ranked player, after retirements and shock defeats cleared out the top seeds.
Muguruza will rise to a career-high of number five having made the semifinals, and would reach number four if she takes the title Saturday.
Williams will re-enter the top 20 after her semi-final performance, and still has an outside chance of qualifying for the season finale in Singapore if she wins at Wuhan and has a strong performance in next week’s China Open.