Venus Williams beats Kvitova, to face Stephens in US Open semis

Venus Williams, of the US, prepares to hit a forehand to Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, during the quarterfinals at the US Open tennis tournament in New York Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 07 September 2017

Venus Williams beats Kvitova, to face Stephens in US Open semis

NEW YORK: Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams became the oldest semifinalist in US Open history at age 37 on Tuesday by defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).
US ninth seed Williams, seeking her third US Open crown, advanced to a Thursday matchup against 83rd-ranked compatriot Sloane Stephens for a spot in Saturday’s final.
“I’m so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire,” Williams said. “I try to tell myself enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that.”
In the men’s event, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time where he will face Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta who will also be appearing in his maiden last-four at a major.
Stephens, who missed 11 months with a left foot injury before returning at Wimbledon, matched her best Grand Slam showing by outlasting Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).
“This is just incredible,” Stephens said. “When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could never have dreamed of coming back and having these results. It’s indescribable.”
Stephens has won 13 of her past 15 matches and matched her 2013 Australian Open semifinal run for best Slam effort.
Williams, who improved to 2-4 all-time against the Czech 13th seed, will return to the world top five for the first time since January 2011, a span that saw her diagnosed with the energy-sapping disease Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Williams, the oldest Slam semifinalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994, won the 2000 and 2001 US crowns.
She was runner-up this year at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and could reach three Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2002.
Kvitova battled back from a five-month absence after a knife-wielding home intruder injured her left hand last December.
“I’m glad I’m still able to compete on the high level against the top players which I hope will give me some confidence to continue to play well, to know that it’s still there somewhere,” Kvitova said.
If Americans Madison Keys and CoCo. Vanderweghe win Wednesday, they will produce the first all-American US Open semifinals since 1981.
“That would be huge,” Williams said. “I’d love that.”
“This is amazing,” Stephens said. “I hope there are four Americans in the semifinals.”
Legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal each practiced ahead of Wednesday quarterfinals in which wins by each would set up their first US Open meeting in an epic Friday men’s semifinal.
The other half-bracket, however, will offer a first-time Slam finalist.
South African 28th seed Anderson downed 17th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (9/11), 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) to book a berth in Friday’s semifinals.
Anderson, the first South African in any Slam semifinalist since Wayne Ferreira at the 2003 Australian Open, will meet Spanish 12th seed Carreno Busta, who has not dropped a set, for a place in Sunday’s final.
“To play in one of the most famous courts in the world at night and to get through, it feels fantastic,” said Anderson.
Carreno Busta, the first player in any Grand Slam to face four qualifiers, cruised into his first Slam semifinal by ousting Argentine 29th seed Diego Schartzman 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
“Incredible,” Carreno Busta said. “It’s something that I always dreamed about but something I never thought was going to arrive here. It’s a great feeling.”
With Anderson standing 6ft 8in (2.02m) and Querrey 6ft 6in (1.97m), it was the tallest matchup ever so late in any Slam.
Sevastova, who matched her best major run from last year at New York by ousting Maria Sharapova to reach the last eight, led 3-1 in the third set before Stephens rallied.
“I just told myself to keep fighting and stay consistent,” Stephens said. “I knew if I just stick with it and stayed in every point I’d have my opportunity and I did.”
In the tie-breaker, Stephens took four of the last five points, three on Sevastova errors before hitting a down-the-line backhand winner ensured her win to reach the top 35 in next week’s rankings.
Sevastova admitted nerves got to her in the tie-breaker, saying, “It’s normal. You play for semifinals of US Open. I’m not a robot. Sorry.”


Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Updated 22 October 2020

Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Arsenal opened its fourth straight Europa League campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Rapid Vienna on Thursday in an opening round of games affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Star striker Pierre­ Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench to score the winning goal in the 74th for Arsenal, which won its group in its previous three campaigns in the second-tier European competition.
Roma also came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Young Boys, as did Granada to upset PSV Eindhoven away.
Rangers’ Kemar Roofe scored the goal of the night in a 2-0 victory at Standard Liege, dribbling his way through three opponents inside his own half and then launching a shot from the halfway line that caught the goalkeeper off guard and looped into the net.
Dutch team AZ Alkmaar overcame a slew of coronavirus cases to upset Napoli 1-0.
Tottenham, AC Milan were among teams playing later Thursday.
Arsenal went behind when goalkeeper Bernd Leno played a poor pass that fell to Rapid forward Taxiarchis Fountas, who slotted in a low shot from a tough angle in the 51st minute.
Arteta sent on Aubameyang and Héctor Bellerín in the 61st, and the substitutes helped spark the comeback.
After David Luiz headed in a free kick from Nicolas Pépé to level the score, Mohamed Elneny freed Bellerín down the right to cross for Aubameyang to complete the comeback from close range.
In the other Group B game, Molde also came from behind to win 2-1 at Dundalk.
AZ Alkmaar flew into Naples with 13 players sidelined with coronavirus infections. Napoli, meanwhile, was coming off a 4-1 win over high-scoring Atalanta 4-1 this past weekend. But the Dutch staved off the hosts’ pressure before Dani de Wit scored the winner in the 57th. Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Rijeka the other Group F game.
With Roma resting striker Edin Džeko, Bruno Peres and Marash Kumbulla led the rally with the second-half goals for the Italian side.
Jean ­Pierre Nsame had given Young Boys the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 14th.
It was the first home loss for Young Boys to an Italian opponent in European competitions after beating Udinese, Napoli and Juventus.
Also in Group A, Romania’s Cluj won 2-0 at Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia.
In Group C, Bayer Leverkusen produced the biggest win of the early games by beating Nice 6-2. Nadiem Amiri and Lucas Alario scored early first-half goals five minutes apart for Leverkusen, while substitute Karim Bellarabi netted two and 17-year-old forward Florian Wirtz came off the bench to complete the rout.
In a game between teams from two countries whose domestic leagues have been interrupted due to high levels of coronavirus infections, Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva beat Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague 3-1.
James Tavernier gave Celtic the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th before Roofe added his spectacular second goal in injury time. Benfica won 4-2 at Lech Poznan in the other Group D game.
In Group E, German forward Mario Götze put PSV ahead in first-half injury time before Jorge Molina and Darwin Machis scored for Granada in the second half. Omonoia drew with PAOK 1-1.