Venus Williams of the US returns a shot against Simona Halep of Romania during their third round match in the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, yesterday.
TOKYO: Venus Williams snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yesterday to beat fast-rising Romanian Simona Halep 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and reach the quarter-finals of the Pan Pacific Open.
The 33-year-old American, who dominated women’s tennis a little over a decade ago but was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011, warned after her match in Tokyo that she had no thoughts of retiring.
In any case, sister Serena would not let her, Venus said.
“I don’t know how I was able to win that match,” Venus, who knocked out ailing top seed Victoria Azarenka in the previous round, told reporters.
“She played unbelievable. I’ve never seen her hit the ball that hard.
“It came down to who was more determined, who would fight harder and believe more. I’m glad that person was me.”
Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland overpowered Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-4 and next faces German Angelique Kerber after the fifth seed flattened Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2.
Williams dropped the first set and was down 4-3 and a break in the second before producing an impressive comeback to set up a meeting with Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, who upset Serbian sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-2 under a closed centre-court roof as rain halted play outside.
Only Serena, with nine, has won more titles than Halep’s four in 2013, and the 13th seed gave Venus the runaround for a set and a half, leaving the seven-times grand slam champion shaking her head as she whipped winners from all parts of the court.
But Williams, who has slipped to 63rd in the world after two years of illness or injury, showed her experience on the big points.
After levelling at a set-all, she ruined Halep’s hopes of celebrating her 22nd birthday on Friday still in the tournament with a blistering crosscourt forehand on her first match point.
Williams added: “The motivation for me now is knowing my luck’s got to change.
“My body’s got to cooperate at some point. What am I going to do anyway? Watch on TV? That’s just lazy.
“And Serena wouldn’t let me quit,” she added with a laugh.
“She’d be like, ‘You’re playing doubles!’. I’d be, ‘Okay’.
“I perhaps don’t have the health of the other players but physically I’m always trying to get an edge. I can’t go in there with fear.
“I’ve tried traditional medicine and non-pharmaceutical things. It’s like tennis -- you always have to try new things.
“There’s no roadmap. I’m on my own here.”
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, winner in Tokyo three years ago, swept into the last eight with a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro and Vasek Pospisil of Canada yesterday became the latest seeds to exit the Malaysian Open, but there was no such trouble for world number four David Ferrer.
The Spaniard, the top seed in Kuala Lumpur, swatted aside Matteo Viola of Italy 6-2, 6-3 in 73 minutes to book his ticket to the final eight.
“It wasn’t as easy as the scores suggest. It’s just that Viola was a little nervous and made a couple of mistakes in the first set,” said Ferrer.
“But credit to him, he came back in the second and played some good rallies. First match (of the tournament) is always tough, but I feel good and I was consistent,” Ferrer said. “I’m happy to seal the win in straight sets.”
Third seed Almagro, who has endured a wretched season with injuries, was sluggish and mixed his game with six aces and five double faults as he crashed out 6-4, 6-3 to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in 76 minutes.
Seventh seed Pospisil, meanwhile, found Argentine Federico Delbonis a tough nut to crack and suffered a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/1) defeat, also in the second round yesterday.
The eighth seed and former champion Nikolay Davydenko was sent packing on