STANFORD, Calif. (www.mubadalasvc.com) – In one of the most thrilling tournament matches in recent memory, 17-time Grand Slam champion and World No. 1 Serena Williams outlasted Ana Ivanovic 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals on Friday night at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic.
The contest felt more like a tournament final, with both players alternating momentum swings while battling through periods of adversity. When it was all said and done, Williams remained on track to capture her third Bank of the West Classic title after earning back-to-back crowns in 2011-12. Williams is also seeking her fourth WTA singles title of the year.
Competing in her first tournament since early singles and doubles exits at Wimbledon, Williams quickly fell behind after the fifth-seeded Ivanovic stormed to a 6-2 win in the first set. Williams then responded for a 6-3 victory to even the match.
The third set began with Williams taking a 3-1 lead before Ivanovic ripped off three straight games. Williams then moved in front 5-4, only to see Ivanovic fight back for a 5-5 tie. Williams concluded the match by winning the final two games, relying heavily on her serve as she pounded 10 aces.
The possibility of an all-Williams semifinal was derailed earlier in the afternoon when Venus Williams dropped a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 decision to eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic, who was forced to rally in the deciding set after holding leads of 3-1 and 5-3. Making her tournament debut, Petkovic notched her first win over Williams, who finished with six aces but 10 double faults, since Luxembourg in 2012.
The bottom half of the draw has produced a semifinal matchup of No. 3 seed Angelique Kerber and Varvara Lepchenko.
Making her main draw debut, Kerber quickly dispatched of Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-1 in the first matchup of the afternoon. Kerber won nine straight games during a stretch that spanned the final five games of the first and the first four of the second. Kerber required only 56 minutes to knock off Muguruza, whose strong tournament debut began with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory over defending champion and No. 6 seed Dominika Cibulkova.
Lepchenko breezed to a 6-1, 6-0 rout in her first career meeting against Sachia Vickery. Coming off an upset of No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday, Lepchenko won the final 10 games of the match en route to a 51-minute victory against Vickery, who had to survive two rounds of qualifying just to make the main draw. It was the 400th career win for Lepchenko.
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ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA Premier event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $710,000. Held on Stanford University’s campus at Taube Family Tennis Stadium since 1997, former champions include: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: Founded in 1874, $68 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with 190,000 employees.
ABOUT THE EMIRATES AIRLINE US OPEN SERIES: Now in its 11th season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams won the 2013 US Open and Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles, each earning a record tennis paycheck of $3.6 million. Roger Federer (2007) and Kim Clijsters (2005) also accomplished the feat of winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open singles title within the same year.