Indian Wells: Venus Williams swept aside Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2 on a windy afternoon at the Indian Wells WTA tournament on Thursday to set up a semi-final against rising Russian Daria Kasatkina, who beat Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2 earlier in the day.
Williams was never seriously tested by the Spaniard, who converted just one of her seven break-point opportunities en route to her fourth consecutive loss to the American.
"You kind of hope for this kind of scoreline, but you never know if you're actually going to get it," Williams said.
Williams, who at 37 is the oldest player in the women's draw, has played sparingly this year but is just beginning to step up her game.
She dominated Suarez Navarro, who became increasingly frustrated and had to call her coach a couple of times to come down to the court in between sets for advice.
"We've had a lot of great matches," Williams said of playing Suarez Navarro. "I was glad that I was able to close it out."
The victory puts Williams back in the semi-finals at Indian Wells for the first time in 17 years.
She skipped the tournament from 2002 to 2015 in the aftermath of her controversial withdrawal from the semis in 2001 where she was due to meet sister Serena.
Spectators vented their displeasure with the withdrawal during the final, booing Serena and jeering Venus and father Richard Williams when the pair arrived to watch the match. Richard Williams alleged he had heard racist taunts.
“This was my first breakout tournament when I was 16 so to come back and get closer to hopefully a title, it’s like a dream come true,” said Venus, who was taught the game by her father on the courts of Compton, California.
“I definitely feel the crowd behind me if I’m getting behind and when I get match point I feel the love,” she said.
“So I love it, I’m happy. This is home.”
Friday’s semi-final will pit the 37-year-old American against 20-year-old Kastakina, who needed less than an hour to defeat former world No. 1 Kerber earlier on Thursday.
Kastakina won five of her six break point opportunities in a dominant performance. The Russian has been toppling big names all tournament long, also defeating US Open champion Sloane Stephens and World No 2 Caroline Wozniacki on the way to the semi-finals.
Williams, the tournament’s No 8 seed, has split her only two career meetings with the 20th-seeded Kastakina.
They have played twice before in 2016 with Williams winning at Wimbledon, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 and Kasatkina winning another tough three setter in Auckland, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3.
Williams said she remembers the Wimbledon contest but couldn't recall losing to her in New Zealand.
"I only remember one. So I will try to remember the other one at some point," Williams said.
The winner will face either world No 1 Simona Halep or 20-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan, who are set to play their semi-final on Friday.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2018 12:44:14 IST