STANFORD, Calif. (www.mubadalasvc.com) – Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (1) against Victoria Azarenka on Thursday night, earning the final quarterfinal berth in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic.
Williams, who has claimed two titles and notched five runner-up finishes in 11 previous tournament appearances, is unbeaten in four career matches against Azarenka, the tournament’s No. 4 seed and the final player to take the court this week.
Tied at 4-4 in the first set, Williams won back-to-back games to seize an early lead. The second set was even tighter, with Azarenka fighting back to overcome a 5-3 deficit and eventually force a tiebreaker. But it was all Williams in the tiebreaker, winning the first five points and seven of eight overall.
The victory keeps alive the possibility of an all-Williams semifinal match on Saturday, as sister Serena Williams topped Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday in her debut.
Two other seeded players in action, No. 3 Angelique Kerber and No. 5 Ana Ivanovic, also punched their ticket to the quarterfinals. Kerber outlasted CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2 in a rare match that saw Vandeweghe actually win more total games. The difference in the match was Kerber building a 4-0 cushion in the third set to hold off Vandeweghe, the 2012 Bank of the West Classic runner-up. Meanwhile, Ivanovic required only 54 minutes to dispatch of qualifier Carol Zhao 6-1, 6-1. Advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time, Ivanovic won all of her service games against Zhao, a promising sophomore All-American from Stanford.
Garbine Muguruza continued her surprising tournament run, knocking off Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-4 in the first match of the afternoon session. Muguruza, who upset defending champion Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round, won the final two games of the first set before racing out to a 5-2 advantage in the second frame.
The doubles nightcap was won by the top-seeded duo of Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, who defeated Varvara Lepchenko and Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (6), 6-1.
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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.