Australian Open 2017: Serena Williams sets up all-Williams final with sister Venus
Serena Williams defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne on Thursday.
22-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne on Thursday. With this win, the second seed set up a thrilling all-Williams final with elder sister, Venus, 14 years after they met at the same venue.
Earlier in the day, Venus Williams advanced to her first Australian Open final since that 2003 meeting, when she came back from a set down to outlast fellow American Coco Vandeweghe, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 in a 2-hour 25-minute battle.
Serena played Lucic-Baroni after 19 years
Serena and Lucic-Baroni, both of whom were a part of a group of rising teenagers back in the 90s, met for the first time since 1998.
Lucic-Baroni, whose emotional journey has been the story of this Australian Open, came out swinging big with her inside-out forehands painting the lines in the very first game of the match. That could not rattle the six-time Australian Open champion and she made her first move in the Croat's very next service game. Rushing to the net, she put pressure on Lucic-Baroni's serve and secured her first service break to go up 2-1.
The world no. 79 failed to recover from that blow and conceded another break soon after. The Croatian managed to take another game before the former world no. 1 Serena wrapped up the opener, 6-2.
The second set was a mirror image of the first. The unseeded player held her first service game but since then, it went totally downhill for her as Serena upped her pace and intensity. The second seed progressed to the final when Lucic-Baroni’s forehand found the net.
First Grand Slam final for Venus since 2009
The 13th seeded Venus found the early proceedings against the giant-killer Coco Vandeweghe tough as she surrendered the opening set in a tie-break. The world no. 35 had accounted for two reigning Grand Slam champions – the top seed Angelique Kerber and the seventh seed Garbine Muguruza.
But being the fighter that Venus is, the former world no. 1 elevated her game from the second set, dropping just five more games along the way. Even facing two break points in the initial stages of the decider could not deter the older Williams sister.
This is the first time that the seven-time Grand Slam champion reached a Major final since 2009. This also made the 36-year-old just the second woman over 36 years of age to make it to a Major final in the Open Era, after the legendary Martina Navratilova.