Though not at her best, Venus Williams scuffled and clawed her way back into the top 10 by ousting No. 3 seed Jelena Jankovic in the U.S. Open quarterfinals Wednesday night. Staying on course to claim a second Grand Slam title, No. 12 Venus rallied to topple Jankovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4) in a two hour, 27-minute crowd-pleaser… â€œShe was better, of course, at the end, so well done,â€ said Jankovic, who had beaten Venus in three previous matches. â€œI wish Venus good luck for the rest of the tournament.â€
The sold out crowd of more than 23,000 in Arthur Ashe stadium gave Venus the emotional boost she needed to stay focus and aggressive. Venus balanced off 56 unforced errors by hitting 60 winners, including nine aces. She ended the match with a backhand volley winner in the tiebreak.
â€œI never had support like this at the Open before,â€ Venus said. â€œItâ€™s amazing.â€
Wimbledon champion Venus had hoped to face her sister, Serena, in the semifinals Friday. Instead, top-ranked Justine Henin will attempt to keep her from reaching the final, something Venus hasnâ€™t done since 2002. Venus said she was troubled as she watched Serena struggled in her loss to Henin.
â€œMore than anything, sheâ€™s my little sister,â€ Venus said. â€œWatching her being upset was hard for me.â€
Jankovic, 22, of Serbia, played the first set with the confidence that comes with having three consecutive victories against her opponent, who still isnâ€™t match tough. Like her sister, Serena, did in a losing effort against Justine Henin, Venus, 27, lost her serve in the opening game and played tentatively and inconsistently during the first set. She committed more than 20 unforced errors, including three double faults and lost her serve twice.
But unlike her sister, Venus, found her legs, her range and another gear against Jankovic in the second set and rebounded with a 6-1 route. Each player held serve throughout the final set, but Venus showed more firepower in the tiebreak, ending the match on a backhand volley approach winner.
Venusâ€™ father/coach, Richard again predicted that sheâ€™ll claim her seventh Grand Slam title this weekend.
â€œIf she follows the suggestions I give her, sheâ€™ll be Henin easily,â€ Richard said. â€œBut youâ€™ve got to be ready against Henin. She might be one foot tall, but she plays like sheâ€™s 9â€™-6â€™â€™. The Williams family will take home three Grand Slam titles this year.â€
Venus, a two-time U.S. Open champion, aims to do her part.
â€œIâ€™m in the semifinals of the U.S. Open semifinals, baby,â€ she said. â€œDoesnâ€™t get better than this, except, obviously, the final and then the win. So Iâ€™m gonna go for it. I feel like Iâ€™ve done it before, now what to do, so Iâ€™ve got to do it.â€