Venus fights to live another day
Veteran, 37, emerges victorious after epic match with 20-year-old Ostapenko
Her mantra was simple - fight to live another day.
And fight, Venus Williams did last night, as the 37-year-old American beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-7 (7/3), 7-5 in an epic 193-minute match at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
The tally of 37 games played was a Finals record in the three-set format.
Both players were looking to win last night's match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to keep their Finals campaign alive, after losing their respective first White Group matches last Sunday.
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams said in a post-match interview at courtside: "Sometimes we need some luck, I don't know it it was luck, I just needed to work for every point as everyone is playing really well here.
"It's not easy to lose the first match. You have to fight, what else can you do except try to fight and live another day.
"Honestly, it was all credit to her, she came up with a lot of shots that you can't prepare for and that's why she's here in this tournament.
"She has a lot of talent and I was just happy to win that last point."
Ostapenko, 20, had only herself to blame - she led 5-3 in the first set, only to let Williams win the next four games to close out at 7-5.
Williams continued her winning momentum into the second set with the first two games, but Ostapenko pushed back to win 7-3 on the tie-break, and force the match into the third set.
It was her 27th three-set match this year, the highest number in the Tour this season.
I just needed to work for every point as everyone is playing really well here.Venus Williams
The Latvian world No. 7 then squandered match-point in the deciding set, after she saved three break-points to hold, and lead 5-4.
But Williams then raced to a 40-0 lead in the final game, before Ostapenko saved the first match-point to reduce the deficit to 40-15.
Ostapenko did not have enough in her tank to mount yet another comeback, as Williams hit a cross-court backhand winner to vanquish her opponent.
During her post-match media conference, which lasted just 47 seconds, Williams fielded three questions and said 34 words in total.
"A win is a win that's all I can say," she said.
On what made the difference for her last night, she said: "I'm not sure, really. Just maybe a little luck. Who knows? But I'm on to the next match now."
On what went through her mind before the last point, she said: "Try to win the point."
The other White Group match between Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova was not available at press time.
Williams, who had lost to Pliskova earlier, must beat Muguruza tomorrow to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the doubles draw was held yesterday evening at Chijmes, with top seed Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan facing Anna-Lena Goenefeld and Kveta Peschke in their first match.
Defending champions Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova were drawn against fifth seed Xu Yifan and Gabriela Dabrowski.
TODAY'S SINGLES MATCHES
Simona Halep (x1) v Caroline Wozniacki (x6)
- Followed by:
Elina Svitolina (x4) v Caroline Garcia (x8)
DOUBLES DRAW (Q-FINALS)
- Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (x1) v Anna-Lena Goenefeld/Kveta Peschke (x6)
- Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (x3) v Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (x7)
- Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (x8) v Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua (x4)
- Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yifan (x5) v Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (x2)