Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Venus survives test in Bank of the West Classic

Top-seeded Venus Williams beat Magda Linette of Poland
in three sets to reach the quarterfinals of the Bank of the
West Classic at Stanford. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD, Calif. -- Venus Williams appeared to be on her way to another comfortable victory over Magda Linette.
   But Linette had other ideas.
   After leading 6-3, 4-2, the top-seeded Williams battled to a 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2 victory tonight in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Williams also led 2-0 in the tiebreaker, but Linette won the next six points. Williams saved four set points to pull even at 6-6, but Linette hit an 84-mph service winner out wide and then converted her fifth set point with a forehand down-the-line winner.
   "She's such a fighter," Williams said of Linette, a 24-year-old Pole, in an on-court interview after the match. "Every time I thought the match was over, it wouldn't end. Credit to her for figuring out how to stay in the match."
   Williams, who won the Bank of the West title in 2000 and 2002, bolted to a 4-0 lead in the third set and held on from there.
   "I tried to get that third gear -- or fifth or sixth or whatever gear it is to get the win," said Venus Williams, who won the last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles in 2008 at Wimbledon.
   Williams had clobbered Linette 6-1, 6-2 in their only previous meeting, which came in the United States' 4-0 Fed Cup victory over Poland in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in February.
   The 36-year-old Williams is coming off a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon, the first time since she has advanced that far in a Grand Slam tournament since the 2010 U.S. Open. She made her WTA debut 22 years ago in the Bank of the West Classic when it was held at the Oakland Coliseum..
   "It's been a wonderful blessing to live my dream -- to chase this ball. And I'm not going to stop anytime soon," said Williams, eliciting a big cheer from the announced crowd of 1,912.
   Among the spectators was Serena Williams, a three-time Bank of the West champion who is not playing in the tournament this year.
   Venus Williams, ranked seventh, will play either CiCi Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card from neighboring Atherton, or qualifier Sachia Vickery from Boca Raton, Fla., on Friday night in the quarterfinals.
   Williams seeks her 50th career title. To win it in the Bank of the West Classic, she said, "would be special. I'd like to just keep advancing. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to do any of that, but if I could do that, it would make it an even better year."
   During the day session, Zheng Saisai upset No. 7 seed Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-1. Zheng won the doubles title at Stanford last year with Chinese countrywoman Xu Yifan.   Zheng, 22, won the last five games and 11 of the last 13 against Cornet, who played in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year and joined No. 6 Jelena Ostapenko and No. 8 Varvara Lepchenko on the sideline.
   Cornet, a 26-year-old veteran, sat out February and March with bruised vertebrae but reached the third round at Wimbledon this month. She has beaten Serena Williams in their past three matches, including a third-round decision at Wimbledon in 2014 and most recently a retirement in the second round in Wuhan, China, that year.
   Zheng will play third-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the quarterfinals. Konta, an Australian Open semifinalist in January, dispatched Julia Boserup, a 24-year-old wild card from Newport Beach, Calif., 6-3, 6-1 in 61 minutes.
   Konta, ranked 18th, made her tournament debut after receiving a first-round bye.
   In an all-Japanese encounter, fifth-seeded Misaki Doi beat Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-4. Doi, a 5-foot-3 (1.59-meter) left-hander with surprising power, is coming off her career-best run in a Grand Slam tournament. She reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before falling to eventual runner-up Angelique Kerber.
   Doi had a match point against Kerber in the first round of this year's Australian Open, and the 28-year-old German left-hander went on to win her first Grand Slam title. 
   Hibino won the inaugural $50,000 Stockton Challenger last summer at age 20.
   Doi, 25, will meet the winner of Thursday's match between second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Poland's Urszula Radwanska, the younger sister of fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska.
   The 5-foot-3 Cibulkova, who got married on July 9 in Bratislava, defeated Agnieszka Radwanska to win the 2013 Bank of the West Classic. Radwanska withdrew from this year's tournament on July 8 with a right hand injury.
   In the first round of doubles, Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Arina Rodionova of Australia defeated former Stanford stars Nicole Gibbs of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area and Carol Zhao of Canada 6-4, 6-4. 
At Stanford
Second round
   Saisai Zheng, China, def. Alize Cornet (7), France, 6-4, 6-1.
   Johanna Konta (3), Great Britain, def. Julia Boserup, United States, 6-3, 6-1.
   Misaki Doi (5), Japan, def. Nao Hibino, Japan, 6-3, 6-4.
   Venus Williams (1), United States, def. Magda Linette, Poland, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2.
First round
   Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia, and Arina Rodionova, Australia, def. Nicole Gibbs, United States, and Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-4, 6-4.
   Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Anastasia Rodionova (3), Australia, def. Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, Ukraine, 6-2, 6-4.
Thursday's schedule
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Alison Riske, United States, vs. Ana Bogdan, Romania.
   Dominika Cibulkova (2), Slovakia, vs. Urszula Radwanska, Poland (not before 1 p.m.).
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
   CoCo Vandeweghe (4), United States, vs. Nicole Gibbs, United States (not before 7 p.m.).
   Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Germany, and Taylor Townsend, United States, vs. Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, United States.
Court 6
(Starting at 1:30 p.m.)
   Raquel Atawo, San Jose, and Abigail Spears (2), United States, vs. Julia Glushko, Israel, and Magda Linette, Poland.
   Xu Yifan and Zheng Saisai (1), China, vs. Johanna Konta, Great Britain, and Maria Sanchez, United States (not before 3 p.m.).

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