Venus Williams has lost only two of 54 U.S. Open matches when taking the first set, and suffered that second defeat on Friday to the same woman who inflicted the first — Kim Clijsters. The Belgian beat Williams 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in their semifinal, giving herself a chance to become the first woman since Venus in 2001 to successfully defend a U.S. Open title.
After trailing for much of the third set, Williams was right back in the thick of the match when serving at 4-all, 30-all. At that moment, it didn't appear to matter that the 30-year-old Williams was bidding to become the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam title in two decades. Or that she arrived at Flushing Meadows coming off a left knee injury that meant she hadn't played a match in more than two months.
Then came two pivotal points. First, Williams double-faulted for the seventh time, giving Clijsters a break point. Next, Clijsters curled a perfect backhand lob over the 6-foot-1 Williams to go ahead 5-4.
Clijsters served it out, exending her U.S. Open winning streak to 20 matches and returning to the final, where she will take on Russia's Vera Zvonareva on Saturday.
Clijsters, also the 2005 U.S. Open champion said,"I never expected I'd come back in this position. I was trying to do it. It wasn't easy, but I stuck with it."
Earlier on Friday, Zvonareva reached her second Grand Slam final in a row by upsetting top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 6-3, having also beaten a Williams sisters in the semifinals —Serena .
Things looked good for Williams at the start.
She converted the first set's only break point while winning 20 of 25 points on her serve and getting the better of Clijsters during lengthy baseline exchanges with powerful strokes from both.
Williams picked up easy points with aces or service winners, but in the second set, though, Clijsters made a key adjustment, playing closer to the baseline, tightening up her backswing and pushing Williams around more.
With the wind gusting, Williams increasingly found trouble with her groundstrokes, spraying more and more out of bounds, and ending up with 50 unforced errors. Still, her first six points in the pivotal tiebreaker arrived courtesy of mistakes by Williams, including a pair of double-faults and a badly botched overhead she sailed long.