Former Champs Venus, Serena, Jankovic March Into Semifinals
By: Nicholas McCarvel
History was made Friday at the Family Circle Cup as Serena and Venus Williams played back-to-back-to-back-to-back matches on Billie Jean King Court, going a combined 4-0 and setting up a blockbuster semifinal Saturday.
It's the first time the sisters will meet since 2009 and their first encounter on clay since the French Open way back in 2002.
The reason for the quadruple-header for the family Williams was persistent rain on Thursday, pushing third round and quarterfinal matches to Friday afternoon. 2007 champion Jelena Jankovic also played, winning her quarterfinal match that moved her back into the semifinals.
But No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, winner here in 2011, was not as lucky, losing to Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a late shocker Friday night.
It was Venus who opened the day with a victory, but not without some difficulty. The 32-year-old struggled in the second set before beating compatriot Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Serena followed that win with some challenges against Burdette, winning going away 6-4, 6-2.
Elsewhere, other third round matches were being contested, including American Madison Keys' 7-6 (4), 6-4 triumph over Bethanie Mattek-Sands and No. 6 seed Lucie Safarova's win over Sorana Cirstea, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.
The win by Keys halted Mattek-Sands' run, which had include a second-round stunner over No. 4 seed Sloane Stephens.
It was Keys and Safarova who would succumb to the Williams sisters in the day's third and fourth matches, Venus beating Madison 6-4, 6-4 and Serena winning 10 of the last 11 games in a 6-4, 6-1 effort over Safarova, a rematch of the 2012 final.
"I know that she's very talented," Venus said of the 18-year-old Keys after the match. "She's just learning the ropes ... and it's just I think for her a matter of time before she can continue to execute and win matches."
Keys won three matches here this week - the most she's won at a WTA tournament in the main draw.
Jankovic, a former world No. 1, had the easiest win of the day, beating Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-1 on Althea Gibson Court.
The victory scored "JJ" her 500th career win, one of just seven active players to achieve such a mark on tour.