With all the pressure on her, Venus wills her way into Open quarters

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NEW YORK—Venus Williams came into her fourth-round match at the US Open feeling refreshed and confident.

She had, after all, won her previous two matches in straightforward fashion after a minor scare in the first round. 

But as she took the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday afternoon—shortly after another former champion, Maria Sharapova, had seen her run come to an end—there was certainly some uncertainty in the Queens air. 

Venus was about to face 35th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro. Though the American was the clear favorite, she was taking on a veteran who was far more accomplished than the first three players she’d beaten this week. And, at 37, Venus has to slow down at some point, right? This can’t go on forever, can it?

Yes, she does, and no, it can’t. But Williams proved yet again on Sunday that she has as much fight and desire in her as ever, and despite her advanced age, the level on the court remains elite.

Suarez Navarro—a former quarterfinalist here—tested Williams, as many thought she would, but in the end it was the two-time US Open champion who was standing and twirling in front of a rocking New York crowd.

Williams advanced to the quarterfinals in Flushing for the second time in three years and the 12th time in her career by ousting the Spaniard, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in her fourth straight match on center court.

After splitting the first two sets, Suarez Navarro took momentum into the decider. But the seven-time Grand Slam champion has been down this road more times than we can count or remember, and she quickly seized control of the set, exuding confidence that could be felt from the front row to the nosebleeds. 

It was reminiscent of her opening match on Monday against young Viktória Kužmová. The first two sets in that duel had identical scores—6-3, 3-6—and on both occasions all of the pressure was on Venus. But she dominated that third set, 6-2, on Monday and was even more suffocating in this decider.

On both occasions, Venus’ veteran experience and self-belief—not to mention her punishing ground strokes and terrific all-court play—propelled her past her opponent. 

Williams is now one win away from her third major semifinal of 2017, having lost the Australian Open final to her sister, Serena, and the Wimbledon final to Garbine Muguruza. 

Venus will play Petra Kvitova, who upset Garbine Muguruza on Sunday night, on Tuesday for a spot in the final four. 

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