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US OPEN

Venus Williams celebrates return to US Open semifinals

Kathy Willens/AP

Venus Williams celebrated her return to the US Open semifinals for the first time since 2010 after defeating No. 13 seed Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) Tuesday night.

By Howard Fendrich Associated Press 

NEW YORK —Venus Williams continued her remarkable renaissance by returning to the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time since 2010.

Williams reached her third major semifinal of the season — something she last did 15 years ago — by edging two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) on Tuesday night to a soundtrack of thunderous partisan support under a closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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The 37-year-old Williams, who won titles at Flushing Meadows way back in 2000 and 2001, trailed 3-1 in the third set before digging out of the hole with a little help: Kvitova’s eighth double-fault handed over the break that made it 3-all. Kvitova’s ninth double-fault gave Williams her initial match point in the tiebreaker.

Kvitova, seeded 13th, was hoping to prolong her comeback from a knife attack less than nine months ago by reaching the first US Open semifinal of her career. She needed surgery on her racket-holding hand after she was cut by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic in December. She returned to the tour at the French Open in May, losing in the second round there and at Wimbledon.

Kvitova has said she still does not have full strength in her left hand. But she was often at her powerful best against No. 9 Williams, especially in the last two sets, repeatedly delivering big, flat forehands. Neither woman played with a ton of subtlety, mainly trading stinging groundstrokes from the baseline on exchanges that grew in intensity as the 2-hour, 34-minute encounter went along.

Williams, who revealed in 2011 she had been diagnosed with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, is the oldest women’s semifinalist at any Grand Slam tournament since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994.

But this sort of throwback run is becoming almost routine again for Williams, who made it to the Australian Open final in January of this year, then the Wimbledon final in July.

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She will face unseeded Sloane Stephens on Thursday in the first all-American women’s semifinal in New York since 2002.

Sidelined from tennis for nearly a year and unsure what she could accomplish just last month after underoing surgery on her left foot in January, Stephens edged No. 16 seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) to reach the final four of a major tournament for the first time since 2013.

The men did get a first-time semifinalist Tuesday when Pablo Carreno Busta beat No. 29 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

The 12th-seeded Spaniard easily handled his first match of the tournament against an opponent who was not a qualifier.

Now Carreno Busta will face No. 17 Sam Querrey or No. 28 Kevin Anderson, who faced each other Tuesday night. None of those three men remaining on the bottom half of the draw has ever played in a major final.

Carreno Busta traveled a tame path to the quarterfinals, becoming the first man to face four qualifiers in a Grand Slam tournament during the Open era, which began in 1968. He didn’t drop a set against any of those opponents and stayed perfect against Schwartzman in his second Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Carreno Busta also reached the quarters in the French Open in June, but had to retire in his match against eventual champion Rafael Nadal because of an abdominal injury that forced him to miss Wimbledon.

The 5-foot-7 Schwartzman was the shortest quarterfinalist at a Grand Slam tournament since Jaime Yzaga, also 5-7, at the 1994 US Open. He was bidding to become the shortest in a major semifinal since 5-6 Harold Solomon at the 1980 French Open.

Querrey was trying to give the United States its first men’s semifinalist at its home major since Andy Roddick in 2006. The last American man to win any Grand Slam singles title was Roddick in 2003 at Flushing Meadows.