Radwanska next for vintage Venus

Published: Saturday 24th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Venus Williams reached the last 16 of a grand slam for the first time since 2011 thanks to a brilliant fightback in the Australian Open on Saturday.

Williams lost the first set of her third-round match with Italy’s Camila Giorgi and trailed 4-2 and 0-40 in the second on Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

However, the 34-year-old American dug deep to save the break points and broke Giorgi’s serve when the world number 33 served for the set at 5-4, before winning the tie-break.

Momentum was firmly with the seven-time grand slam singles champion and she claimed an early break of serve in the decider, with Giorgi then forced to save seven more break points in an epic third game which featured 11 deuces.

That was the last game that Giorgi would win as 18th seed Williams hit top form to wrap up a 4-6 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 victory, setting up a clash with sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska who had earlier defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0 7-5.

“This old cat has a few tricks left,” said Williams, whose last fourth-round appearance in a grand slam was at Wimbledon in the year she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, a debilitating autoimmune disease.

Williams added: “She played amazing and did nothing wrong. I just kept thinking I will have some chances at some point. I had never played her before and to play someone of her level at a major is difficult because you don’t know what to expect.”

Asked in an on-court interview about reaching the fourth round after such a lengthy absence, Williams said: “That feels fantastic, especially when things happen in your life and it’s not in your control.

“It’s awesome to be here and I don’t want to leave it at that. I want to keep going.”

Radwanska has dropped just nine games in the tournament so far and it could easily have been two fewer after she served for the match at 5-3 in the second set.

The 25-year-old looked furious with herself at being broken but quickly regained her composure under the watchful eye of new coach Martina Navratilova on Rod Laver Arena.

“It was a really quick conversation and I was very glad that she agreed right away,” Radwanska said of her approach to 18-time grand slam singles winner Navratilova in the off-season. “So far so good.”

Top seed Serena Williams overcame another slow start to beat Elina Svitolina in three sets and set up a fourth-round clash with Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the 24th seed defeating Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-3 4-6 6-0.

Williams, who had to save three set points in the opening set against Vera Zvonareva in the previous round, fell behind this time to her Ukrainian opponent before going up through the gears to win 4-6 6-2 6-0.

And the 33-year-old then revealed she had been inspired by seeing the score from her sister’s match displayed on television screens inside Rod Laver Arena.

“I was a little upset coming out here because she was down a set and a break and I was destroyed,” Williams said. “Then I looked up and she was 4-1 up so I thought, ‘Serena you can do it too’. We always motivate each other.”

Published: Saturday 24th January 2015 by The News Editor

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