By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Venus Williams [5] def. Jelena Ostapenko [7] 7-5 6-7(3) 7-5
  • Karolina Pliskova [3] def. Garbiñe Muguruza 6-2 6-2
SINGAPORE – Karolina Pliskova was the first to qualify at the WTA Finals, with the scene set for a Wimbledon rematch between Venus Williams and Garbiñe Muguruza

 

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Venus Williams [5] def. Jelena Ostapenko [7] 7-5 6-7(3) 7-5

Venus Williams of the United States in action during the second round-robin match at the 2017 WTA Finals tennis tournament

For all her detachment at the start of the tournament and after a first round loss, Venus Williams dug deep and pulled out a fighting performance to outlast French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in three sets.

The match was a real momentum shifter from start to finish – more breaks of serve than your could count on your fingers and toes if you include the tie-break mini-breaks, and a loss here would have almost certainly sent Williams packing.

Williams was not phased by Ostapenko (who was just two years old when Williams made her debut ay the 1999 WTA Finals) broke in the first game and each time the Latvian looked to boss her way ahead, Williams was able to break back before breaking to take the first set.

It was Ostapenko’s time to look the more resilient though, as Williams surged ahead at the start of the second set and found herself pegged back. She had her chance to be in the locker room and on her way back to the hotel, but levelling at 5-5 seemed to be the spurt for Ostapenko.

She broke to put herself in the driving seat to serve for the set, but again was hauled back by Williams to force a tie-break. No-one seemed capable of holding their serve for the first five points, but with Ostapenko being the first to hold, despite another flurry of mini-breaks, the set was hers.

The final set was a battle of wills as well as the forehands and backhands that Williams professed to just wanting to hit, before the tournament. She edged an unravelling Ostapenko, but still remained as tough a nut to crack after the match, answering just three questions, as she switches her focus to the next match.

 

Karolina Pliskova [3] def. Garbiñe Muguruza 6-2 6-2

In a stark contrast to the third longest match and the sixth to pass three hours, with the most games (37), Karolina Pliskova raced through her match with Garbiñe Muguruza.

The Czech raced out to a quick lead while Muguruza looked struggled against the barrage, admitting that she was a little flat.

She said: “I think my tennis wasn’t there tonight, and, you know, I didn’t started playing well. She, you know, is very tough, such a great server. I don’t know if that’s the way you say it.

“I felt like during the match I couldn’t really found it, either. She really took advantage of that. And after, it was very hard to kind of catch her, because of her style of game.”

 

Pliskova v Ostapenko is scheduled for 4pm, (9am BST) with Muguruza v Williams not before 7:30pm (12:30pm BST), on Thursday.

 

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