WUHAN • Singapore tennis fans might yet see a star named Williams in action at the WTA Finals.
With days to go till the Oct 23-Nov 1 blockbuster, Venus Williams injected fresh hope into her outside chance of qualifying for the elite eight-woman singles event in Singapore.
The former world No. 1 yesterday fought back from a set down to beat Roberta Vinci 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) and make the final of the Wuhan Open. The seven-time Grand Slam-winner was a match point down to the Italian at one stage, but eventually saw her off in a final set tie-break.
"There were a lot of ups and downs. On a day when I'm playing (like this) I'd hope it's a more straightforward match. She's definitely tricky. She finds a way to hang in there," said Williams.
Vinci fought back from 0-3 down to take a topsy-turvy first set that featured five breaks of serve. But she failed to hit the heights thereafter as Williams took command in the second set, racing ahead 5-1 before forcing the decider.
An early break put the American up 3-1 in the third set. But she stumbled when serving for the match at 5-3, with the Italian, chasing her career-best world ranking of 11th this week, breaking and then holding her own serve to make it 5-5.
After that, it was Vinci's turn to wobble when serving for the match. The doubles specialist failed to convert a match point and was broken as Williams forced a tie-break. The 35-year-old secured an early mini-break as she wrapped up the match in just under three hours to reach her 77th career final.
It was Vinci's second consecutive semi-final against a member of the Williams family, after downing Serena in the US Open, an upset that denied the world No. 1 a calendar-year Grand Slam and a record-equalling 22nd Major title.
"If I could I would give this win to Serena at the US Open, but it doesn't work like that in tennis," said Venus, who won her 700th WTA match earlier this week.
The American - whose 46 career titles are more than the other Wuhan Open semi-finalists combined - will face Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza today.
Muguruza downed Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) despite injuring her ankle after a fall during the second set tie-break.
The 21-year-old and world No. 8 entered the semi-finals as the highest-ranked player, after retirements and shock defeats cleared out the top seeds. Muguruza will rise to a career-high of No. 5 having made the semi-finals, and would reach No. 4 if she takes the title.
The Spaniard would also leapfrog into the top eight of the Road to Singapore leader board.
With the champion in Wuhan receiving 900 points, and next week's China Open winner getting 1,000 points, Venus could also make it to the showpiece tournament that her sister pulled out of on Thursday.
She went into this week 23rd on the Road to Singapore leader board. But 27 players still have a mathematical chance of booking a berth.
Serena, world No. 2 Simona Halep and world No. 3 Maria Sharapova are the only three players who have qualified for the season-ender.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
WTA WUHAN OPEN
Final: StarHub Ch203, 3pm