Venus Williams nearly blew a huge lead in the second set to hang on and move herself into the second round at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati Monday. The 7-6(6), 6-4 straight sets win over Zarina Diyas on centre court. It was the third straight first round loss for the 21 year old and a huge sigh of relief for the veteran tennis star.
Both ladies hadn’t met each other nor had the best of luck in recent months. After playing at Wimbledon, Diyas tried to make her way into tournaments but didn’t get through qualifications. Williams took the time off but as the years go by the less chance she had of being a strong player. The American had the slight advantage over the Kazak, as her experience is way above that of her counterpart.
Both got in two games with each other as both broke the serve before the match had to be suspended due to rain. After 1 hour and 57 minute delay, the action resumed on centre court with Diyas in the works to serve. It was Williams who took the lead as she felt her strength warming up to get back on serve. Williams successfully held on her serve over Diyas gaining a 3-1 lead.
The 21 year old made her first hold of serve in Game Five allowing Williams two points before closing in on the lead. Williams against took a step ahead in the set with Diyas still close by after playing seven games. Diyas got into a 4-4 tie with Williams, as her battle against the veteran’s serve was nothing short of magnificent as she pounced on the shots answering back with sheer ferocity.
Williams mission of staying ahead continued to work out winning Game Nine outright. Her tactics of holding the Kazak behind could give her the chance to put an end to the set. The end would not come for the American as Diyas pushed the set to its breaking point winning Game 10 to even the set one more time.
In a surprise to some, the youth of Diyas was glowing her in tennis game as she went on a strong offense to break ahead 6-5 and play for the set. Williams would not allow an upset to go against her and made it so with a huge response on serve to force a critical tiebreaker. Diyas took a 2-1 lead and continued to climb putting ground in front of her.
Her lead was out to three points before Williams made a move to come back. Her strategy on ball placement certainly worked well getting her leveled once again. The tie continued on through 12 points with Williams knocking on the door to take the lead away. It arrived no later than expected as the 35 year old gained the game winning point to end the set in 60 minutes.
The second set was turning into a rout for Williams as she was at her full potential to swiftly fly through the match. It was what exactly occurred as the American won game after game with no hope of Diyas countering. Williams was then out to a 5-0 lead making her efforts look so easy.
They were disappointing for the Kazak who was on the verge of losing her third consecutive first round match. With her chance to break on the board while serving to Williams, Diyas jumped out to hold serve with two points to play another game. Williams went back to serve where her earlier trip of wins now had her attempting for her fourth to close the match. What looked to be a quick exit for Diyas showed as another last hurrah to stay alive. She was awarded a chance on deuce by Williams until finding the right moment to capture another win holding Williams again.
The Kazak got closer as she held Williams from the match a third time giving her a chance to steal the set. Another notch with pressure was thrown into Williams as the youngster piled it up with a fourth consecutive win. The American showed too much aggression that converged into her game putting her one game from playing another tiebreaker.
Game Ten was the moment and despite the desperate fight from Diyas on court Williams played tight defense, dug in and won the match point on deuce ending the tight two match fight in 1 hour and 40 minutes. “My opponent played well, she missed few shots and she didn’t miss many shots and I missed a lot but I tried to hang in there,” Williams said.
“Putting the ball in the court didn’t always work but you have to fight a little bit harder,” Williams said during her on court interview. “I had to give her a lot of credit though she was so consistent and determined.” With the humble words for her adversaries she will have to clear her mind when she faces sixth seeded Ana Ivanovic.