by Press Release | 20.02.2014
Serena Williams is just one win away from facing sister Venus in Saturday’s final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after both claimed straight-set victories on Thursday.
World number one Serena defeated fifth seed Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-2, and Venus fought off a strong late challenge from qualifier Flavia Pennetta to win 6-3 7-5.
Serena’s opponent in the semi-finals will be Alize Cornet, who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5 6-3, while Venus will tackle 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki, who overwhelmed Sorana Cirstea 6-1 6-2 in just 62 minutes.
Top seeded Serena played a solid match from the beginning, taking a 3-0 lead before closing out the match in style, at one stage winning 12 consecutive points. It was, she thought, an improvement on her opening performance which followed a month of inactivity.
“It definitely felt a lot more comfortable,” she said. “There are some shots today that I missed that I would never have missed a month ago, so I’m still getting a little rust off. But it feels good. I’m still trying to make sure I keep going in the right direction.”
Jankovic had played her previous matches during the day outside of Centre Court and found the evening conditions difficult to adjust to.
“The conditions were quite different from what I played in the other courts,” she said. “I felt it was kind of slow and heavy, and the ball didn’t go off my racquet. I didn’t really do anything with my ball, and, you know, I hit the balls short.”
Two-time former champion Venus Williams took the opening set and then held the upper hand in the second set, leading 4-2, but from then on she struggled to close out the match.
She had to fight off two break points to hold for 5-3 before the battle moved on to a dramatic conclusion. After Pennetta held for 5-4 and in a nail-biting finish, Williams fell behind 0-40, recovered to hold a match point, but then dropped her serve.
Despite that disappointment she managed to break Pennetta’s serve again to lead 6-5, but again fell behind 0-40 before claiming the next five points and the match.
“She just keeps fighting. She stays relevant,” said Williams. “That’s what she does really well. She stays in the point. I have to give her credit for that. I think I could have maybe made a couple more shots, but it’s not always easy against someone who competes as well as her.”
Wozniacki took charge against Cirstea right from the start and was never troubled as she swept to a comfortable victory.
“That was good. That was really pleasing, and I always know that Sorana can be a tricky opponent,” said Wozniacki. “It was important for me not to let her back in the game, and I felt like I served well and I put the pressure on her and played the way I wanted to play today.”
Cirstea admitted that she had no chance against an opponent who was superior on the day.
“All credit to Caroline,” she said. “She played great today. I think she played one of the best matches I have ever played against her. Very solid. Quite aggressive from the start. She should definitely deserve this win. I didn’t really get a chance to get fully into the match.”
Despite her disappointment, Cirstea is already looking forward to her return in 2015.
“I always come and am happy every single time I come here, because they treat the players so nicely,” she said. “Everyone is so friendly. They try to accommodate us as best as possible. It’s just so easy for us, the hotel, it’s on-site. It makes a huge difference.
“I always say you can see how well the tournament is doing by looking at the draw, and this I think it’s one of the strongest draws out of the whole year. So it’s definitely a tournament that knows how to treat their players.”
“Serena Williams played like the world number one that she is, and Venus Williams yet again showed us the qualities which have made her one of the greatest champions of this decade,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “Caroline Wozniacki was also in excellent form and we are pleased to see Alize Cornet reach the semi-finals here for the first time.”
“Two former champions have advanced to what will be a fascinating semi-final,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Venus Williams had to dig very deep to overcome a very fine performance from Flavia Pennetta, and Caroline Wozniacki was in tremendous form against Sorana Cirstea. Their match on Friday will provide outstanding entertainment.
“It will also be interesting to see how Alize Cornet, a former world number 11, challenges our top seed, Serena Williams.”
Play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event run until 22nd February and play then continues between 24th February and 1st March with the action-packed ATP tournament that includes defending champion Novak Djokovic, five-time winner Roger Federer, recent Australian Open semi-finalist and last week’s Rotterdam winner Tomas Berdych, former US Open winner and recent Sydney champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and operated by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.