Serena forced to bend knee to sibling rival

Injury and busy schedule take toll on world No 1 as Venus triumphs in semi-final

By the end her injured right knee was creaking almost as badly as her serve, but Serena Williams still proved a formidable adversary for the player she regards as her most dangerous opponent here last night. Venus Williams won their semi-final in the Barclays Dubai Championships 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 to take a 10-9 lead in meetings between the two sisters. Venus faces the unseeded Virginie Razzano in today’s final.

Having pulled out halfway through last week’s indoor tournament in Paris, Serena nearly did not play here. She nursed her knee through her first three matches, but by the midway point of a hard-hitting contest with her sister it was clearly affecting her game. Her serve and backhand went particularly awry, but the world No 1 is such a fierce competitor that she still made a match of it.

The Williams sisters have usually been careful not to play too heavy a schedule, but in the first seven weeks of the season Serena has played four tournaments and 19 matches in three different continents. She will rest before her next tournament, in Miami, at the end of next month.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played this many tournaments in my career and so consistently,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having a little time off.”

It was Serena’s fifth defeat in her last seven meetings with her sister. Asked whether it mattered that Venus now led in their head-to-head record, she started listing her Grand Slam titles, which number 10 to Venus’s seven. “That’s what counts,” she said.

Venus, who is playing only her second tournament of the year, served beautifully throughout. Her only regret was that the match had not been the final. “It was definitely a final-quality match,” she said. “I think Serena and I are the best in the world.”

The first set took just 20 minutes. While Venus found an immediate rhythm on her serve and groundstrokes, Serena could barely put the ball in court. She made six double-faults in the set, by the end of which she was hitting first serves at second-serve pace simply to get the ball in play.

From 1-0 down in the second set, however, Serena’s game clicked and she took it with something to spare. The younger sister led 3-1 in the final set, but Venus broke back to level at 3-3, having made a successful Hawk-Eye challenge to a Serena “winner” when the latter was on game point. At 5-5 Venus saved two break points and went on to win the tie-break 7-3. It was only the second occasion in their 19 meetings that the outcome has been decided by a tie-break.

“My serve has been off all year,” Serena said. “I think it’s been on vacation, so I’ll have to catch up with it. I don’t think I’ve served as many double-faults in a whole tournament as I did in the first set. I felt Venus served really well and I think that ultimately helped her to win the match.”

Venus, who will climb to No 5 in next week’s world ranking list, has won two of her three previous matches against Razzano, though the world No 58 came out on top in their most recent meeting, in the final of the Japan Open two years ago. Having already beaten Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva, Nos 2 and 5 in the world respectively, Razzano continued her remarkable week when she beat Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-2 to reach the final.

* Anne Keothavong is poised to become the first British woman to reach the world’s top 50 since Jo Durie in 1993 after reaching the semi-finals in Memphis. She was due to play top seed Caroline Wozniacki last night.

19

The Williams sisters have now met 19 times, with Venus holding the edge, 10 wins to nine.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone