Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Serena tops Venus in U.S. Open yawner

Serena Williams, shown last year, defeated older
sister Venus in three one-sided sets tonight.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Well, wasn't that exciting?
   Despite ESPN commentators breathlessly lauding tonight's meeting between Serena Williams and Venus Williams as a "high-quality match," the sisters predictably played another dud.
   Serena's 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open lacked rallies and drama. Other than that, it was great.
   Both Serena and Venus hit hard, seemingly trying to end the points as quickly as possible to shorten the agony of playing each other. Yes, they combined for 59 winners versus 37 errors. But it's easy to hit a winner when the other player doesn't chase the ball. The match was over in a perfunctory 95 minutes.
   Amazingly, Serena played well in the first set, lousy in the second set and well in the third. It was as if she threw her older sister, seeded 23rd, a bone in the second set.
   For the record, Serena improved to 16-11 in the head-to-head series.
   Thankfully, now we can get back to the real U.S. Open. Not that Serena's next match will be any more compelling. But at least it will be real competition.
   Williams will face unseeded Roberta Vinci, a 32-year-old Italian who beat Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Venus Williams, shown last year, fell to 11-16 against
Serena. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Williams owns 21 major singles titles and seeks the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf's in 1988. Vinci, meanwhile, will play in her first major singles semifinal.
   Williams is 4-0 against Vinci, never dropping more than four games in a set. Williams won 6-4, 6-3 last month in the Toronto quarterfinals. 
   On the men's side, No. 9 seed and defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia outlasted No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in 3 hours, 59 minutes in the quarterfinals.
   Cilic will face No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, who defeated No. 18 Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended at 1 a.m.Wednesday EDT.
   Northern California connection -- Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, upset sixth-seeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 3-6, 6-4 [10-6] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   Mattek-Sands and Querrey, who's also in the men's doubles quarterfinals, will meet Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic and Lukasz Kubot of Poland in the semifinals.
   Hlavackova and Kubot ousted No. 1 seeds Sania Mirza of India and Bruno Soares of Brazil in the first round.
   Michaela Gordon, 16, of Saratoga lost in the second round of girls singles to fourth-seeded Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Gordon and Claire Liu, 15, of Thousand Oaks, the Los Angeles suburb where Querrey grew up, withdrew from their first-round girls doubles match because of Gordon's shoulder injury. They were scheduled to play Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia and Aleksandra Pospelova of Russia.
   Wild cards Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Fla., and Sam Riffice of Roseville in the Sacramento area edged Yusuke Takahashi of Japan and Tung-Lin Wu of Taiwan 6-4, 3-6 [10-6] in the first round of boys doubles. 

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