NEW YORK (AFP) — Eight-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams advanced to the semi-finals of the US Open on Wednesday, coming-from-behind in a pair of tie-breakers to defeat sister Venus 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (9/7).
Venus and Serena have met twice in the US Open final with the older Venus winning in 2001 before losing to Serena the following year.
This was another classic Williams sister summit, featuring long rallies and precision shot-making but also a number of uncharactistic errors from Venus, who went zero-for-10 on set points.
"It felt like the final of US Open. I can't believe I won. Wow," Serena said. "It was difficult because she is such a great player."
Serena booked a semi-final berth against Russian Dinara Safina, who defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-3 in the other quarter final on Wednesday.
Safina is trying to follow in the footsteps of her big brother, Marat Safin, and win her first Grand Slam title at a US Open.
The other semi-final features Russian Elena Dementieva facing Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in a super Friday of women's matches at Flushing Meadows.
Serena, who lost to her sister earlier this year in the Wimbledon final, has now won nine of their 17 career matches.
Fourth seed Serena dug deep in both tie-breakers in front of a crowd of 23,700 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Seventh seed Venus jumped out to identical 4-2 leads in each tie-breaker before allowing Serena to claw her way back into it and eventually take the match in their first quarter-final meeting in a Grand Slam.
Serena survived four set points and won the final three points of the match in the second tie-breaker.
The first set was similar, as Serena took back two set points and won the final four points of the tie-breaker.
"I tried not to look at her. If I did I might start feeling sorry for her. I caught myself looking at her once and I had to say to myself, 'Serena keep your head down,'" Serena said.
Serena, who hasn't dropped a set at this year's US Open through the first five rounds, clinched it when Venus sent a shot long.
Venus challenged the ruling but was unable to get the linesman's call overturned and then walked to the net to congratulate her sister.
"She played well and kept lot of balls in play," Venus said. "I was just praying on some shots tonight. I would get up and feel confident but for whatever reason didn't get the point. Nothing I planned.
"That's tennis. It is never over until it is over."
Russian sixth seed Safina, who reached her first Grand Slam final earlier this year at the French Open, says winning the US Open would put a fitting exclamation point on her season.
"It's great," Safina said. "I'm getting closer to reaching the same thing as my brother. I just hope that one day I can have the same title."
Big brother Safin won the US Open men's title in 2000.
Safina, 22, continued her domination of Pennetta, raising her career record over the Italian to 5-0.
Wednesday's win was also a repeat of this season's Los Angeles final, which Safina won 6-4, 6-2.
The six-foot-one Safina needed just 71 minutes to reach her first US Open semi-final in seven tries as she closed out the match on her second match point when Pennetta hit a backhand long.
On Monday, an exhausted Safina had to be coaxed onto the court by her coach, Zeljko Krajan, to play her fourth-round match against Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
She was in a much better frame of mind on Wednesday.
"Finally I am happy with myself because I did what I had to do," Safina said. "I was aggressive on the court. I was following balls every time. Today I finally played my game."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »