US Open: Serena, 2 Wins Away from a Calendar Slam, Cilic to Play Djokovic

Venus Williams pushed her younger sister, Serena, the full length in their well anticipated US Open women’s singles last-eight duel on Tuesday, but could not deter the world No. 1 from continuing on the path of a historic campaign in Flushing Meadows.

Marin Cilic needed five sets to dispatch Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and set-up a semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic, but it was Italy’s Roberta Vinci, who first touched down in the last-4 stage of this year’s championship in New York, needing nonetheless a three-setter of her own to dismiss Kristina Mladenovic.

The Williams’ Night in New York

Popular culture celebrities from the world of stage and screens as well as politicians gathered at the Arthur Ashe Stadium to witness the 27th revival of the greatest sisters act in the world of sport.

The match itself did not live below expectation with two-time winner, Venus, 35, demonstrating her, maybe ‘Queens never die’ sort-of athleticism to take a 6-1 second set win off Serena for the first time in the US Open since the top seed’s defeat by Justin Hennin in 2007.

But the frame that preceded and succeeded that period saw Serena, 33, broke and consolidated for a 4-2 lead with an ace on her route to closing out the opening set in just over a half-hour.

While dropping a set could worry the 21-time major singles winner less, doing it against her older sibling on a night when her bid to become the first woman, since Steffi Graff in 1988, to win a calendar Grand Slam lay at stake, saw her up the antics at the right moments.

A pair of backhand winners saw the six-time US Open winner race into a 2-0 lead and, after saving break point in the third game, Venus was nowhere close to closing up the gap any longer as Serena finished off the business of the day on her first match point with another ace of a serve.

Next up for Serena is Vinci, whose vintage performance against Frenchwoman Mladenovic etched out a 6-3 5-7 6-4 win in the first game on Arthur Ashe on Day 9.

'No Victor; No Vanquished': Venus Congratulates Her Younger Sister after Their US Open Last-8 Tie in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Image: Getty via USTA.
‘No Victor; No Vanquished’: Venus Congratulates Her Younger Sister after Their US Open Last-8 Tie in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Image: Getty via USTA.

Cilic sets Djokovic

Defending champion Cilic survived a mid-match blip to close out a 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-7 6-4 win against Tsonga and claim his fourth successive win over the 19th seed, taking his overall head-to-head advantage to 5-3.

Tsonga failed to convert on a total of four break-point opportunities in the first set, but the No. 9 seed salvaged his fifth in a long deuce game on his opponents’ serve at 4-4 to move within set point, which he closed out in due course.

Tsonga’s 14 unforced errors to 9 winners differentials against Cilic’s 5 to 13 in the second set best illustrated the story of a misfiring Frenchman vs. a peaking Croat.

And when it appeared victory was within Cilic’s grasp while the champ served at 3-4, Tsonga converted on the second of his two break-point opportunities and held saves in the ninth game to move within a set of restoring parity.

That he did by remaining on equal footing with Cilic in a set which went with service holds from either players, while Tsonga had to serve to stay in the set at 4-5 and 5-6 to force a tie-break.

That equality was eventually broken at 2-2 in the tie-break, as Cilic double-faulted to hand inititiative and the fourth set to Tsonga.

All hope of a Tsonga recovery varnished in the sixth game of the decider, when Cilic broke at love for a 4-2 lead – though he double faulted again on his fourth match point while serving for the match at 5-4 – and moreover claimed victory on his fifth match point.

Cilic has never beaten his next opponent Novak Djokovic in their 13 previous career meeting, but did I hear you say he was also the underdog when he played against Roger Federer in the semi-final last year? This is the US Open and dare never turn your hearts away from a surprise.

Djokovic on his own part silenced a resilient Feliciano Lopez 6-13-6 6-3 7-6(7-2) to advance into his ninth consecutive US Open last-4 on Tuesday evening. The Serb also moves into his 21st semifinal in 22 majors.