The stats for today's second women's semifinal match at the U.S. Open tell a lot: Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters made a combined 93 unforced errors and hit a combined total of 53 winners. They broke each other four times apiece. The wind blew, and the momentum of the match swung, sometimes surprisingly. It took two hours and 23 minutes to sort it all out, but in the end, it was defending champion and 2nd seed Kim Clijsters who walked off the court a winner.
Venus Williams, seeded 3rd, took the first set 6-4, after breaking Clijsters in the seventh game. The wind began to blow with more force when the second set started, and it became harder to serve, though Williams did hit three consecutive aces early in the set. After a furious exchange of breaks, Clijsters took the lead at 5-4, then suddenly suffered a service collapse, easily giving Williams yet another break. The set would go to a tiebreak--the first the pair had ever played against one another. The 3rd seed double-faulted her way to a 0-3 deficit, and never recovered. In almost no time, Clijsters had six set points, and she took the set on her second one.
Williams began the final set with more service errors, and Clijsters got an early break. But then the 2nd seed made back-to-back double faults and lost her focus again, resulting in a break for Williams. Clijsters was to break back, however, with a backhand lob that turned out to be the shot of the match. With a 5-4 lead, she held easily.
The defending champion's 4-6, 6-7, 6-4 win gives her a 20-match streak at the U.S. Open. She won the Open in 2005, with a decisive victory over Mary Pierce. Clijsters retired from the tour, and didn't play in Flushing Meadows again until 2009, shortly after her return to professional tennis. In that tournament, she defeated both Venus and Serena Williams, and then beat Caroline Wozniacki in the final.
Venus Williams won the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001. She last reached the semifinals in 2007, when she was defeated by eventual champion Justine Henin. Williams did not play in this year's U.S. Open Series because of problems with her knee.