Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Williams sisters join Black & Huber in U.S. Open semifinals

Since the U.S. Open began, I have generally watched two matches at once (a practice I don't recommend). This afternoon, however, it was hard to take my eyes off of the quarterfinal match between the Williams sisters and the comeback Chinese team of Yan Zi and Zheng Jie. Venus Williams had a consistently troublesome serve, which opened the door for the aggressive team of Yan and Zheng. Zheng is the showier of the two, and some of her volleys are stunning, but many times, they are set up expertly by the quiet and steady Yan.

Serena Williams served for the first set at 5-2, and was broken. Yan and Zheng held, as they continued their aggressive tactics. Up to this point, Venus was the only player who had not been broken, but when she served for the set at 5-4, she double-faulted twice. Serena rushed the net and saved a break point, but the team was broken when Venus double-faulted a third time.

When Yan and Zheng served at 5-all, there was a thrilling rally which ended when Zheng went to the net to save a break point. The Chinese team was broken on the next break point, however, and the Williams team held to take the set 7-5. The Williams sisters went up an early break in the second set, but were broken, then Yan and Zheng were broken right back. When the Williams team served again, Yan and Zheng had a break point, but Zheng over-hit a volley, which went long, and the Williams sisters were able to hold for 6-4 and the match.

(Note to Doug Adler: Four women on the court do not "man" their positions.)

In the other quarterfinal, top seeds and defending champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber faced Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Black and Huber took the first set 6-3, and the Spanish team took the second, 6-2. In the final set, Black and Huber went down 4-5, 0-30, but found a way to hold--because that's what Black and Huber do. At 5-6, sitting on the bench during the changeover, Liezel Huber turned to her box and gave a thumbs-up to her team. The team then faced another break point, but saved that one, too, then broke the Spanish team. Black and Huber then held for a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory.

In the semifinals, Black and Huber will play 3rd seeds Sam Stosur and Rennae Stubbs. The Williams sisters, who are seeded 4th, will play the 13th seeds, Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova.

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