Veteran Venus Williams ended the unseeded CoCo Vandweghe’s stunning run with a hard-fought 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 win on Thursday to reach her first Grand Slam final in 8 years and now awaits the winner of the Serena Williams-Mirjana Lucic-Baroni semifinal.
Venus, Australian Open finalist in 2003, was broken by her much-younger opponent in the very first game of the match, before winning a break of her own in the next game to keep the score level at 1-1.
Both players held their serve to set up a tie-break but the 25-year-old Vandeweghe played some of her best tennis of the match to set up a potential upset.
And after sending the the likes of Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza packing in consecutive rounds without dropping a set, a packed Rod Laver Arena was expecting the giant-killing Vandweghe to add another scalp to her collection.
It wasn't to be, as Venus came storming into the second set, taking it in less than 40 minutes, as CoCo’s overly-aggressive play came back to haunt her. Instead of making the high percentage shots, she went for a winner almost every time she pulled the trigger and with lots of unforced errors creeping in, it seemed unlikely she would be able to win the final set.
And after Venus broke her in the opening game, there was only one outcome that seemed probable. To CoCo’s credit, she didn't give up, even saving three match points on her serve with the score reading 5-3 in Venus’ favour, but Venus won the game, set and match on her fourth attempt in a tie that lasted slightly less than two and a half hours.
While CoCo never once looked out of place on her first-ever semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam, Venus’s experience in the clutch moments proved to be the difference in a match which could have gone either way really.
Sinking to her knees in unadulterated joy, before congratulating her opponent for a gallant fight, Venus couldn't hold back her emotions on reaching her first Australian Open final in 14 years.
The 36-year-old is chasing her 8th Grand Slam and first one since winning Wimbledon in 2008 and the possibility of an all-Williams final is extremely high indeed.