Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Venus, Serena reach final; so does Federer

Venus Williams became the oldest Grand Slam singles
finalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994.
2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Venus Williams reached her first Grand Slam singles final in eight years today, beating fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   The 13th-seeded Williams, 36, became the oldest Grand Slam singles finalist since 37-year-old Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994. The unseeded Vandeweghe, 25, was playing in her first major semifinal.
   Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, which saps energy and causes joint pain, in 2011. She will seek her first major singles title since Wimbledon in 2008 against second-seeded Serena Williams, who routed unseeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-2, 6-1 in 50 minutes.
   Venus is 11-16 against Serena, including 2-6 in Grand Slam finals. Serena beat Venus 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4 in the 2003 Australian Open final. Serena also won their last meeting in a major final, which came at Wimbledon in 2009.
   Russian hackers released confidential records last September showing that both Williams sisters received legal exemptions to use prohibited substances between 2010 and 2015. Serena was treated for a blood clot in her lung in 2010.
Serena Williams will try to break the Open Era record of
22 Grand Slam singles titles she shares with Steffi Graf
and regain the No. 1 rankings. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Serena, 35, is trying to win a record seventh Australian Open singles title, break the Open Era record of 22 majors she shares with Steffi Graf and regain the No. 1 ranking. Margaret Court holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles crowns.
   Serena owns three singles titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2011, 2012 and 2014) and Venus two (2000 and 2002).
   No. 17 Roger Federer defeated No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 in an all-Swiss men's semifinal. The 35-year-old Federer, who missed the last six months of 2016 with a knee injury, improved to 19-3 against Wawrinka and became the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam singles final since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in the 1974 U.S. Open.
   No. 9 Rafael Nadal will face No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov on Friday at 12:30 a.m. Nadal is 7-1 against Dimitrov, who won the last meeting 6-2, 6-4 in the Beijing quarterfinals last October on an outdoor hardcourt.
   Third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford 1997-98) advanced to the doubles final with a 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory over unseeded Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. 
Roger Federer became the oldest man to reach a Grand
Slam singles final since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in
the 1974 U.S. Open. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   The 38-year-old Bryan twins will meet fourth-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia. They beat Aussie wild cards Marc Polmans and Andrew Whittington 6-4, 6-4.
   Kontinen and Peers defeated the Bryans in straight sets en route to consecutive titles in Paris and the ATP World Tour Finals in London last November.
   The Bryans have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including six in the Australian Open. But their last major crown came in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   The Bryans recently announced their retirement from Davis Cup competition after 14 years with the U.S. team. They hold the American record for doubles victories by a team, having gone 24-5. They clinched the last of the United States' record 32 Davis Cup titles in 2007 against Russia in Portland, Ore.
   Top-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Mike Bryan, who grew up in Camarillo in the Los Angeles region, withdrew from their mixed doubles quarterfinal against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Chris Guccione of Australia. It was the second consecutive walkover for Svitolina and Guccione. 

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