Venus Williams beats Kvitova, to face Stephens in US Open semis

Venus Williams, of the US, prepares to hit a forehand to Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, during the quarterfinals at the US Open tennis tournament in New York Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 07 September 2017

Venus Williams beats Kvitova, to face Stephens in US Open semis

NEW YORK: Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams became the oldest semifinalist in US Open history at age 37 on Tuesday by defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).
US ninth seed Williams, seeking her third US Open crown, advanced to a Thursday matchup against 83rd-ranked compatriot Sloane Stephens for a spot in Saturday’s final.
“I’m so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire,” Williams said. “I try to tell myself enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that.”
In the men’s event, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time where he will face Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta who will also be appearing in his maiden last-four at a major.
Stephens, who missed 11 months with a left foot injury before returning at Wimbledon, matched her best Grand Slam showing by outlasting Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).
“This is just incredible,” Stephens said. “When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could never have dreamed of coming back and having these results. It’s indescribable.”
Stephens has won 13 of her past 15 matches and matched her 2013 Australian Open semifinal run for best Slam effort.
Williams, who improved to 2-4 all-time against the Czech 13th seed, will return to the world top five for the first time since January 2011, a span that saw her diagnosed with the energy-sapping disease Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Williams, the oldest Slam semifinalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994, won the 2000 and 2001 US crowns.
She was runner-up this year at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and could reach three Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2002.
Kvitova battled back from a five-month absence after a knife-wielding home intruder injured her left hand last December.
“I’m glad I’m still able to compete on the high level against the top players which I hope will give me some confidence to continue to play well, to know that it’s still there somewhere,” Kvitova said.
If Americans Madison Keys and CoCo. Vanderweghe win Wednesday, they will produce the first all-American US Open semifinals since 1981.
“That would be huge,” Williams said. “I’d love that.”
“This is amazing,” Stephens said. “I hope there are four Americans in the semifinals.”
Legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal each practiced ahead of Wednesday quarterfinals in which wins by each would set up their first US Open meeting in an epic Friday men’s semifinal.
The other half-bracket, however, will offer a first-time Slam finalist.
South African 28th seed Anderson downed 17th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (9/11), 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) to book a berth in Friday’s semifinals.
Anderson, the first South African in any Slam semifinalist since Wayne Ferreira at the 2003 Australian Open, will meet Spanish 12th seed Carreno Busta, who has not dropped a set, for a place in Sunday’s final.
“To play in one of the most famous courts in the world at night and to get through, it feels fantastic,” said Anderson.
Carreno Busta, the first player in any Grand Slam to face four qualifiers, cruised into his first Slam semifinal by ousting Argentine 29th seed Diego Schartzman 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
“Incredible,” Carreno Busta said. “It’s something that I always dreamed about but something I never thought was going to arrive here. It’s a great feeling.”
With Anderson standing 6ft 8in (2.02m) and Querrey 6ft 6in (1.97m), it was the tallest matchup ever so late in any Slam.
Sevastova, who matched her best major run from last year at New York by ousting Maria Sharapova to reach the last eight, led 3-1 in the third set before Stephens rallied.
“I just told myself to keep fighting and stay consistent,” Stephens said. “I knew if I just stick with it and stayed in every point I’d have my opportunity and I did.”
In the tie-breaker, Stephens took four of the last five points, three on Sevastova errors before hitting a down-the-line backhand winner ensured her win to reach the top 35 in next week’s rankings.
Sevastova admitted nerves got to her in the tie-breaker, saying, “It’s normal. You play for semifinals of US Open. I’m not a robot. Sorry.”


Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

Saudi Arabia will hold its first-ever women’s professional golf tournament in March when the Saudi Ladies Championship tees off at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. (Supplied)
Updated 25 January 2020

Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

  • Record prize money of $19.87 million for the LET 2020 season offered

JEDDAH: Saudi golfers Othman Almulla and Faisal Salhab have said they cannot wait for the Saudi Ladies Championship to happen in the Kingdom, after a UK newspaper confirmed the tournament was one of three new events added to the Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule.

The Daily Telegraph said the Ladies European Tour would offer record prize money of £15.2 million ($19.87 million) for the 2020 season, an increase of almost £4 million on last year. The cash injection comes in part due to having three new events, all offering prize money of at least $1 million, including the inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship to be held in March.
The exclusive report said there would be 24 events on the LET this year, an increase of four from last year. In addition to the Saudi tournament and the Scandinavian Mixed event, the third event to have a prize pot of over $1 million will be a new event to be held in the UK in August, ahead of the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s Open.
Almulla and Faisal will both tee off alongside the biggest names in golf in the Saudi International, which starts next Thursday at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club at the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Almulla, who turned professional during the inaugural staging of the Saudi International last year, is playing on a pro invite while the 23-year-old Riyadh-based Faisal qualified following his victory in the 5th Saudi Open at the Riyadh Golf Course in November last year.  
Saud Alsharif, from the Eastern Province like Almulla, completes the Saudi trio in action in the Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 European Tour event. Alsharif earned his second straight stint in the tournament by virtue of his top ranking.
Almulla, a decorated amateur golfer and the youngest to qualify for the Dubai Desert Classic before another Saudi, Khaled Attieh, broke his record, told Arab News: “I think it’s a wonderful time for the sport of golf in Saudi Arabia, with the big developments the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi have put in place.”
“We already see the rewards of their ambitious plans with the first-ever female participation in an international event at the Pan Arab and GCC Championships in Egypt and Oman this year.
“And now with the first-ever ladies professional golf championship happening in Saudi Arabia, this will further motivate and inspire the next generation of golfers to continue improving,” Almulla added.
Salhab, who just ended a training camp with Alsharif and coach Jamie McConnell, director of instruction at the Claude Harmon Golf Academy in Dubai, said: “It’s great to have a Ladies European Tour event in Saudi Arabia. It emphasizes how the game is growing.
“It’s unreal to have such big events for men and women hosted in the Kingdom and hopefully inspire the next generation of golfers to pick up the sport.
“By having an event like this one take place in our backyard will hopefully expose many women to learn about the beautiful game,” Salhab added.
The Saudi Ladies Championship, professional golf’s newest high-profile tournament being hosted by the country, will take place March 19 to 22 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club under the aegis of the LET and the Saudi Golf Federation.
Golf Saudi announced last month that it was working with several LET stars to promote golf to local audiences, and to enhance the visibility of its Saudi golf development program and the country’s golf tourism. The UK’s Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert, will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the program.