Venus Williams produced a vintage display full of guts and determination to grind out a 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5 victory over Jelena Ostapenko in their White Group encounter at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.
Both players had lost their opening ties on Sunday so were desperate for a victory to keep their future fate in the eight-woman event in their own hands and neither appeared willing to budge in a titanic three hour and 13-minute marathon.
In the end, the 37-year-old Williams emerged from a bruising encounter that featured 20 breaks of serve with a victory built on her calmness at the key moments and ruthlessness when offered a chance to attack her opponent’s weak second serve.
“Sometimes you need some luck. I don’t know if I had any tonight as I had to work for every point,” Williams said in a courtside interview.“It’s not easy when you lose the first match. Both of us were in the same situation and you have to fight, what else can you do, to live another day.”
Afterward, Karolina Pliskova cruised past Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2 to ensure she sits atop of the White Group.
The Czech, 25, won in just 62 minutes to ensure she will win the White Group, with one match remaining.
The 3rd seed’s thrashing of Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza also sees her become the first player to qualify for the semi-finals.
“I’m just happy that I don’t have to play the next match for qualifying, because last year I was playing for it and it was pretty stressful, I would say,” said Pliskova. “I’m always happy if I can win few matches in a row, it gives me always extra confidence.
“There is one more match to go in the group, which I want to try to enjoy, not to lose, but just to try to enjoy the tennis a little bit more.”
On Wednesday, Simona Halep meets Caroline Wozniacki for the lead in the Red Group while Elina Svitolina takes on Caroline Garcia in a virtual elimination match.