WHAT HAPPENED: As expected in today’s brand of tennis, experience triumphed over youth in a one-sided fourth-round match between veteran Venus Williams and 19-year-old Anett Kontaveit. In just 50 minutes, the 35-year-old Williams, the oldest player in the women’s main draw, cruised past the youngest remaining player with a 6-2, 6-1 rout to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
Though she was tested and pushed to three sets in the first two rounds of the US Open, Williams seemed more at ease against Kontaveit on Sunday afternoon.
Entering the fourth round, Kontaveit proved she was a worthy opponent for Williams, having earned a spot in the main draw as a qualifier, then dismissing No. 60 Casey Dellacqua, No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Madison Brengle. But the task of defeating the two-time US Open champion and 21-year veteran was just too much for the teenager to handle.
“I’ve played some tough matches so far, and I feel like that helped me get a rhythm today,” Williams said. “I played so well in the last match, so I was able to stay comfortable. But I think experience helped a lot, and I was able to play in the moment.”
En route to allowing only three games, Williams remained in control from the baseline, coming in to the net only twice the entire match, a sharp contrast to her tactics from previous matches. She breezed to a 5-0 lead in the second set before Kontaveit briefly threatened to rattle the veteran by getting on the board and soon earning a break point.
But it was too little, too late for the Estonian, as the No. 23 seed Williams denied her the chance, ending the match early to secure her spot in the final eight.
WHAT IT MEANS: From the opening game, it was clear Williams had the upper hand in experience between the two women. To put things in perspective, when she was around Kontaveit’s age, Williams’s US Open contemporaries included the likes of Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Anke Huber and Mary Joe Fernandez. And her opponent in the next round could potentially be yet another contemporary from decades past, a possibility that fans, media and perhaps even Williams herself could be anxious to see—a nostalgic showdown with little sister Serena.
Serena took the court against fellow American Madison Keys immediately after sister Venus claimed her victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium and followed suit to set up their meeting in a quarterfinal.
THE QUESTION: Do you think tough matches actually help a player who advances, as Venus says it does for her?