On Tuesday in Cincinnati, Venus Williams scored her first Top-5 win since Indian Wells by knocking out defending champion Kiki Bertens, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4).
“The tiebreaker, I just said to myself, act like you know how to play. Easier said than done,” Venus said. “You’ve got to go big or go home.”
The 39-year-old entered the Western & Southern Open on a four-match losing streak, but seems to have really found her rhythm. After splitting the first two sets, Venus had the late edge in the third set, but her 6-5 lead was erased by Bertens holding serve at love.
Unruffled, the seven-time Grand Slam champion won the next four points to leap ahead in the tiebreaker, which gave her the buffer she needed as it took her three match points to move into the third round of the WTA Premier 5.
The world No. 65 didn’t beat a single Top-10 player last year, and should have plenty of confidence from her upset of Bertens when she faces Victoria Azarenka or Donna Vekic next.