x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The final arrives three days early

The US Open women's singles final will be played three days early at Flushing Meadows tomorrow.

The US Open women's singles final will be played three days early at Flushing Meadows tomorrow in the eyes of many Americans who believe the winner of a mouthwatering quarter-final between the Californian sisters Venus and Serena Williams will lift the trophy for the third time. The siblings shared four successive titles here between 1999 and 2002 and look the two strongest players in the draw, as they were in the last grand slam at Wimbledon in July when they contested their third final which the elder Venus won to draw level at 8-8 in their battle for family supremacy.

Both sisters are frustrated that their latest meeting is not in the final because when they put their minds to it they are the two best players in the world, despite Serena's seeding of four and Venus's seven. They do not play as much as those rated higher than them and consequently do not collect as many ranking points. "It sucks," said Serena after outclassing the French wild-card Severine Bremond 6-2 6-2 in exactly an hour. "Even the semi-finals would have been better than the quarters."

Serena, 26, has conceded a miserly total of 14 games to her four opponents so far and her big sister knows she will again have her hands full. "It's tough to play her because she is so good," said Venus, who enjoyed an equally effortless 6-1 6-3 passage against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. The winning Williams is likely to face Russia's Dinara Safina in the semi-finals after the Russian made further improvements to her impressive record this year by defying a bout of fatigue in the first set of her match against Germany's Ana-Lena Groenfeld to coast through 7-5 6-0.

Safina, the French Open runner-up who won recent back-to-back tournaments in North America before travelling to Beijing to earn an Olympic silver medal, has been one of the busiest players on the circuit since May and will be hoping to conserve energy in her quarter final against the Italian Flavia Pennetta before what is sure to be a demanding semi-final. Pennetta booked her place in the last eight by securing a much easier victory than she envisaged against the former world No 1 Amelie Mauresmo. After the embarrassment of a love set in her 6-3 6-0 defeat Mauresmo, not for the first time this year, hinted on bringing a productive career to an end.

The quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw were determined on Sunday when Jelena Jankovic, the second-seeded Serbian, fought her way through to a meeting with Austria's Sybille Bammer and Elena Dementieva, Russia's Olympic champion booked a clash with the experienced Swiss Patty Schnyder. wjohnson@thenational.ae