Venus Williams avenged a rare loss suffered by top-ranked sister Serena and dispatched a Swiss foe just like old times Friday at the US Open by defeating Belinda Bencic.
The 35-year-old American, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, ripped Bencic 6-3 6-4 to reach a fourth-round matchup with Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit and eliminate the top-ranked rival on Serena’s side of the US Open bracket.
Bencic defeated Serena last month in a Toronto semi-final on her way to the title and Venus, who improved to 4-0 all-time against Bencic, received some guidance from her younger sister on how to handle the 18-year-old.
“That’s between us,” Venus said when asked about specifics. “I think it worked.”
Venus was equally coy when asked if the triumph was sweeter given Bencic’s victory over Serena. While evading the question, she didn’t say no.
“Whoever is across the net, I want to win,” Venus replied. “Whoever that person is, that’s the day I want to win.”
Venus wants to be the one to challenge her sister in the quarter-finals as Serena tries to complete the Grand Slam and match Steffi Graf’s record 22 Open Era Slam singles titles.
“I would like us to have that moment so we can see how it is,” Venus said. “We both have to get there. I think we both have a great opportunity to do so.”
So how is that now versus when they played in younger days to make each other better?
“I used to always win in the early days,” Venus said with a smile.
Bencic was born only six months before Venus played in her first US Open final back in 1997 against Swiss star Martina Hingis, who has been working with Bencic and was sitting beside Bencic’s father Ivan in the stands Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I did see her a little bit,” Venus said. “You can’t help but think about if she’s kind of putting herself in the position of when we used to play and what kind of advice she may have given her. So it’s interesting to see your opponents. And she’s playing well. I think if she wanted to, she could still play singles.”
But Hingis might then suffer the same fate as in her younger days, when she became the WTA’s top star only to have the Williams sisters come in and dominate her and most other rivals of the time.
“She said one day when they are on fire and play very good, it’s very tough to play against them,” Bencic said of the advice Hingis gave about the Williams sisters.
“But I really have to wait for the chance, and if they have a little bit low, I could maybe have a chance to win.”
Bencic disposed of Serena in Toronto and said it raised her profile, if only slightly.
“I feel like the people recognise me a little bit more,” Bencic said.
“Sometimes like, ‘Oh, she’s the girl who beat Serena. I don’t think they know my name, but they just know I beat her.’ I don’t feel like it is a very big change.”
Venus pondered her game at Bencic’s age.
“At the time. I didn’t really have a plan. Just fighting. So now I’m fighting with a plan,” Venus said.
“At that point it was pretty fun because you don’t think so much. You just go for everything. It’s wonderful to have experienced that, but at the same time now I feel like I have the tools to get the wins under my belt.”