SINGAPORE – Ageless Venus Williams revived her WTA Finals campaign with an epic three-hour, three-set victory over error-prone Jelena Ostapenko on Tuesday, dealing a big blow to the French Open champion’s hopes.
The 37-year-old world number five rebounded from her opening defeat to Karolina Pliskova with a marathon 7-5, 6-7 (7/3), 7-5 win over three hours and 13 minutes – just one minute shy of the record played at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The round-robin match was strewn with no fewer than 20 breaks of serve, with Williams capturing 11 of them – enough to edge her to a victory that ensures she stays in the season finale.
It was relief for the American, who let slip a match point in the second set, but summoned up all her experience to stay cool when she got another opportunity in the third.
During the 69-minute third set, which included six consecutive breaks, Williams clinched the decisive break in the 11th game and then clinically held serve to outlast the Latvian.
It maintained Williams’ perfect record over Ostapenko, having won their only encounter earlier this year at Wimbledon.
The result will sting for Ostapenko who started brightly, working Williams around the court and hitting the lines with precision, notably several piercing cross-court winners.
The 20-year-old delivered 12 of the first 13 winners in the match before her confidence nosedived as she struggled with her serve.
Even though she had a major 48-26 advantage in winners, Ostapenko had only a 46 percent success rate with her first serve, and dished up 13 double faults.