Venus Williams beat Britain’s soon-to-be number one women’s player Johanna Konta at the Wuhan Open on Thursday, earning the chance to avenge her sister Serena’s shocking defeat at the US Open last month to Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the semifinals.
The seven-time Grand Slam-winner survived a three-set examination by qualifier Konta to set up a meeting with Vinci. The American veteran looked rattled as she slipped to 1-3 down in the third set against Konta, but recovered to take it 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. “I was definitely waiting on a few errors which didn’t come from her side,” Williams said. “Maybe not my best day on the court, but that’s when I have to dig deep.”
Konta, who reached the US Open last 16, beat world number two Simona Halep on her way to the Wuhan quarter-finals and will become Britain’s number one in next week’s new rankings. “There’s some things I’d like to do better. But as a whole, I played, I felt, quite a high-level match today against an incredible champion,” said Konta.
Williams will now face Vinci, who has won 10 of her last 11 matches -- with the sole defeat coming in the US Open final to compatriot Flavia Pennetta. Vinci defeated Serena in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, a cataclysmic upset which denied her a calendar-year Grand Slam and a record-equalling 22nd major title.
As Serena said she was cutting her season short to heal her physical and emotional wounds, Vinci took just over 75 minutes to dismiss Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (2), 6-3. “I played a good game also today, solid game. I’m really, really happy that I’m in semi-final here for the first time,” Vinci said.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza dropped only four games as she beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-2. Muguruza could break into the top five after reaching the Wuhan semis, where she will meet German sixth seed Angelique Kerber, who profited from a retirement by America’s Coco Vandeweghe.
Vandeweghe took the late-season tournament’s retirement tally to four when she pulled out after 56 minutes, three points into the second set, with a left ankle injury.