Wednesday 23 September, 2020

Serena holds off Venus in hard-fought Top Seed Open clash

Serena Williams prepares to return a shot to her sister Venus Williams during the WTA tennis tournament in Nicholasville, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

Serena Williams prepares to return a shot to her sister Venus Williams during the WTA tennis tournament in Nicholasville, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

Serena Williams fought back from a set down to defeat sister Venus on Thursday and advance through to the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open.

In the 31st instalment of a rivalry going back 22 years between the legendary siblings, it was tournament favourite Serena who prevailed 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Kentucky.

Serena trailed by two games in the deciding set but hit back to win a high-quality contest and set up a meeting with either Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez in the next round.

Both players are this week competing for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was Venus who started the quicker.

Serena charged into a 2-0 lead in the opening set but her older sibling won five games on the bounce to take control.

There were too many errors from Serena, and Venus made her pay, winning the first set point she manufactured courtesy of a powerful serve that the favourite could not return.

Serena, who has now won 10 of their past 12 completed encounters dating back to 2009, responded well in the second and went a break up at 4-2 before seeing out the set to level up.

After a 10-minute break in accordance with the heat rule, Serena drew first blood in the deciding set by breaking her opponent with a cross-court forehand in the third game.

Venus instantly hit back by breaking in the following game and opened up a 4-2 advantage when converting with a forehand winner in the sixth.

However, the older Williams - without a win this season - was unable to pull clear and lost two of the next three games, with Serena making the most of a double-fault to lead 5-4.

The final game went with the serve, despite the 23-time Grand Slam winner falling 30-15 behind, as Venus misfired off the forehand down the middle to settle a tight tussle.

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