LONDON: Playing at Wimbledon for the 20th time, Venus Williams is in the semi-finals for the 10th time.
The five-time champion at the All England Club advanced to the last four for the second year in a row by beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 Tuesday under a closed roof on Centre Court.
Venus, who is 37 years old, made her Wimbledon debut in the same month that Ostapenko was born. She last won the title in 2008, but reached the semi-finals last year and the Australian Open final this year.
“I love it. I try really hard,” Williams said of tennis. “There’s no other explanation. You do your best while you can. That’s what I’m doing.”
Venus will next face either second-seeded Simona Halep or Johanna Konta on Thursday. In the other women’s semi-final match, Garbine Muguruza will play either CoCo Vandeweghe or Magdalena Rybarikova. Muguruza beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals by beating Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. That match, the first to be played under the roof on Centre Court at this year’s tournament, was postponed from Monday.
The men traditionally have Tuesday off at Wimbledon, but Rafael Nadal’s five-set loss to Gilles Muller on Monday forced Djokovic’s match to be pushed back a day.
And Djokovic criticised officials for making the “wrong decision” in postponing his fourth round match.
Djokovic was due to follow Nadal on to Court One but the Spaniard’s four hours 48 minutes defeat by Muller did not finish till 8.35 local time, which meant the Serb’s match could not be completed before dark.
The Serb, who had been stuck waiting for the end of that battle only to be sent home, said it would have been better to have moved his match to the, by then unused, Centre Court.
“I just think it was a wrong decision not to play us last night, because we could have played,” Djokovic said. “I think the last match on the Centre Court was done before 7pm. Having in mind that Centre Court has the roof and lights, we could have played till 11pm.
“We went to the referee’s office before eight. [We were told] there were security reasons [for not moving the match]. That was the only excuse… that we were getting.”
Fourth seed Nadal’s pursuit of a third Wimbledon crown was cut short with a heartbreaking 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 defeat by Luxembourger Muller, extending his drought without a quarter-final berth at the All England Club to six years.
Nadal, one of the pre-tournament favourites, fought back from two sets down and saved four match points in a 135-minute minute fifth set but ultimately buckled under the relentless pressure exerted by an inspired Muller.
“It was not my best match against a very uncomfortable opponent,” said world No 2 Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion. “Well done to him. He played great, especially in the fifth set but I fought to the last ball.”
Nadal converted just two of 16 break points, while Muller fired 30 aces and 95 winners.
Top seed Andy Murray and third seed Roger Federer both eased into the quarter-finals with straight sets wins, while last year’s runner up Milos Raonic was pushed to the limit by German Alexander Zverev but ultimately prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Czech 11th seed Tomas Berdych downed eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Tuesday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Quarter-finals: 10-Venus Williams (US) bt 13-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) 6-3, 7-5; 14-Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) bt 7-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 6-3, 6-4.
Fourth round: 2-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt Adrian Mannarino (France) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Monday’s remaining results:
Fourth round: 16-Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) bt 4-Rafa Nadal (Spain) 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13; 6-Milos Raonic (Canada) bt 10-Alexander Zverev (Germany) 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1; 3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt 13-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) 6-4, 6-2, 6-4; 11-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) bt 8-Dominic Thiem (Austria) 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2017