Venus Williams defeated sister Serena Williams 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the championship match of the 2014 Rogers Cup. She will face the winner of the second semifinal featuring Agnieszka Radwanska and Ekaterina Makarova on Sunday.
It marked the 25th all-time meeting between the Williams sisters. Each one now takes on a special importance because it's never known which clash will be the last. They first faced off way back in 1998 at the Australian Open.
One thing that's stood out over the years is how neither sister seems to take particular joy in playing —or, more specifically, beating—her sibling. Rarely over those more than two dozen matchups has either sister showcased her best tennis.
Steve Keating of Reuters passed along comments from Serena, who admitted that going up against her older sister isn't an ideal situation.
"I definitely don't like playing her. I think I've lost to her more than anyone on the tour. Definitely not a fun match," she told Keating. "She's tough. She has a great serve. She runs every ball down. She has a great backhand. She hits winners off the forehand."
They didn't play at all during a three-year stretch starting in 2010. Venus started playing better tennis again over the past few years, however, leading to a meeting in Charleston last year and then this week in Montreal as part of the U.S. Open Series.
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Serena got off to a sluggish start in the first set, which allowed Venus to grab an early-break advantage. Right away, there was a lot of tactical play on both sides of the net, showcasing how much both players know about each other's games.
Serena, the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion, was able to find a groove after the lackluster opening stretch. That was mostly because she started serving extraordinarily well. She finished the set with 12 aces compared to just four for Venus.
Her strong play on serve was on full display in the tiebreak, which she dominated. The younger sister raced out to a 5-0 lead before closing it out at 7-2 to grab the edge.
TennisTV provided a look at the stats from the first set:
Venus did a better job of attacking Serena's second serve after that point, and it really turned the match around. She won eight of 10 points in that situation during the second set, which helped lead her to a pair of breaks.
Interestingly, once she took command of the set, she faced far less resistance. Serena started playing uncharacteristically poor tennis and basically gave away the final game of the set.
Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters noted the match was still intriguing despite the fact that both players were tired after some tough matches in the earlier rounds:
Serena goes up 76 but Venus takes 2nd 62. Cause they have to clash at 3rd which will be classic, even if they r physically tired. Bring it— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) August 9, 2014
It was more of the same in the third set. Venus defended her serve well and took advantage whenever Serena wasn't able to get that booming first serve in. It was the type of tennis fans weren't sure they would ever see from Venus again.
Serena did put up more of a fight in the deciding set, but it was too little, too late. Venus got the break she needed and cruised to the finish line. It marked her first win in the friendly rivalry since 2009.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times summed up the result:
Venus knocks out defending champion Serena 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3 winning Williams-Williams XXV to reach the Montreal final. She's still got it.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 9, 2014
Josh Cohen of ESPN 106.3 provided some post-match remarks from the winning sister:
Following the match, Serena posted on her Twitter account about the defeat:
Big sister taught little sister a lesson...— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 9, 2014
Looking toward the final, it's hard not to like Venus' chances. She's played some inspired tennis throughout the week, and scoring a win over her top-ranked sister should provide an added boost of confidence as she gets set to face off with either Radwanska or Makarova.
It also bodes well for her chances in the U.S. Open, the season's final major. She's shown that when her match fitness is up to par, she still has the weapons to challenge anybody. It would be quite a story if she makes a deep run in New York.