Tennis

All-Williams final featuring Venus and Serena still in play at Miami Open

rock solid: Venus Williams belts a return during her victory over Samantha Stosur on Saturday.
rock solid: Venus Williams belts a return during her victory over Samantha Stosur on Saturday. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

OK, it’s way, way too early, but sometimes the process of speculating is just downright enjoyable.

In this case, the speculation would be a Williams (Serena) vs. Williams (Venus) championship match in the Miami Open.

Not particularly likely, but such a meeting would be something nearly everyone would like to see.

Certainly the hierarchy running the Miami Open tournament would welcome it with a smile, much in the same way a tennis player welcomes a weak, short lob that has a guaranteed result. The guaranteed result in Williams vs. Williams would be fans arriving by the droves.

The possibility, if not the likelihood, of that happening was kept alive Saturday as both Williams sisters won. And, yes, they are on opposite sides of the bracket.

Venus was certainly OK with the possibility of an all-Williams finale.

“It is early, so we’re going to have to both play our parts to get there,” she said. “I would love it though.”

On Saturday, big sister Venus, 34, beat Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) in the third round and little sister Serena, 33, breezed past Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-1 in a rain-delayed second-round match. To reach the final, Venus, ranked 16th in the world, needs three more victories, including one over Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round. Serena, ranked No.1 in the world, needs four more victories to move into the final.

What are the most recent meetings between the sisters?

A year ago, they met in a semifinal at Montreal, with Venus winning 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 6-3. The year before, in another semifinal, this time at Charleston, Serena beat Venus 6-1, 6-2.

And you have to go a lot further back to find the last time they met in a final. That would be the WTA Finals in 2009, with Serena winning 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).

Venus had her match against Stosur well in hand Saturday with a 5-1 lead in the second set, but she started having trouble with her serve as Stosur caught her at 5-5 and 6-6. Finally, in the tiebreaker, Venus once again took charge, winning six of seven points after Stosur won the first point.

Of her erratic second-set play, Venus said: “The second set didn’t go exactly as I wanted. But I had put myself in a good position, and that was good.

“It was so interesting, because once I got to the tiebreaker that’s when I really started to feel a lot more rhythm in my game. So I think playing extra games actually helped me. I think I’m going to be feeling a lot better once my next rounds come around.”

Stosur upped the ante in that second set, according to Venus.

“She got aggressive and started to land a lot of good shots,” Venus said.

She added: “The match is not over until it’s over. Even if you’re up 5-1 or it’s match point, you have to win that last point.”

Venus, a former No.1 and winner of five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open titles, started the 2014 season ranked 47th in the world. Some had started to say her career was near its end.

Now she has climbed back to her current No.16 ranking.

Has her game undergone a resurgence?

The word resurgence is one that Venus is not particularly fond of. It wasn’t like she had disappeared off the rankings or the tennis court.

“I’ve heard that word ‘resurgence’ quite often recently,” Venus said with a smile, and then offered a better way of describing her current status.

“Let’s say I’m winning more matches,” Venus concluded, “and it’s nice.”

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