Venus Williams Advances to 2017 Australian Open Final

Venus Williams beat Coco Vandeweghe on Thursday from Melbourne Park in the first semifinal of the day.

Coco Vandeweghe appeared poised to make the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career. She entered the semifinal round as the favorite to beat 36 year old Venus Williams after Vandeweghe dismantled Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber in each of the last two rounds. However, the 25 year old American showed that she has a lot of work to do before she’s actually a contender in a major. She lost to Venus Williams 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 behind an atrocious second and third set of tennis.

After winning the first set, Vandeweghe had nothing to counter what was not an exceptionally high level of tennis from Venus. No less than 28% of the points played in the second set ended with a Coco Vandeweghe unforced error. In the third set 31.1% of the points played ended in the same manner as Vandeweghe failed to keep shots in play that most Grand Slam semifinalistsย might actually use to at least turn the point in their favor.

The missed opportunity for Vandeweghe to advance to a Grand Slam final through an aged veteran may yet come back to haunt the American. At the age of 25, she certainly has plenty of majors ahead of her still. However, not every Grand Slam will have all of Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Petra Kvitova out of the tournament for their varying reasons. Furthermore, the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber was far below standard this tournament as were Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Caroline Wozniacki. The door was truly open wider for a Cinderella run at the 2017 Australian Open than it is in most majors and Coco still fell short.

For Venus Williams, she is making the most of her late-career opportunity. It has been 7.5 years since her appearance in the 2009 Wimbledon final, the last time she made it to the title match of a major. She may yet play Serena although at time of writing the other semifinal was not over. But regardless of who Venus plays in the final, she will likely have to play better than she played in the semifinals if she wants to add another Grand Slam to her collection.

The American made 35 unforced errors of her own and yielded 13 break-point chances. Certainly Serena Williams won’t be lenient with that kind of play and the semifinal between Coco and Venus did not have the markings of a great match. The latter advanced to play another day, but without improved play her chances in the final may in fact be slim.

Shane Lambert