Coming back after dropping the first set, Karolina Pliskova surged into the US Open quarterfinals by defeating a game Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in a magnificent match. Williams, the sixth seed, was on a collision course to meet her sister Serena in the semifinals before Pliskova’s exceptional play derailed a potential Williams sisters battle.
But Pliskova, despite the fans’ love of Venus, may have been doing the US Open a favor. Much as it’s fun to contemplate a Williams sisters showdown on Arthur Ashe in the semifinals — with all the history and psychology that comes with it — matches between the sisters have been awkward for years. Two competitors who customarily display a take-no-prisoners attitude on the court just don’t enjoy playing each other — or beating each other. Even 3-set matches aren’t as close as they seem. Not since 2009 has a final set in a Williams sisters match been closer than 6-3. The sisters last played in the quarters of the 2015 US Open, when Serena beat Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in a match she commanded despite that middle set anomaly. Serena beat Venus 6-4, 6-3 at Wimbledon last year too. Venus did win a sisters match at the Canadian Masters in 2014: 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3. But Serena is on a mission in New York this year, and the chances of Venus stopping her were small.