Suffering the effects of a tennis hangover on Tuesday, Venus Williams had no choice but to go back to work and do her job.
“It was a quick comeback from yesterday, where you have the emotions of, ‘Hey, this feels like a final,’” Williams said of the always intense showdown with sister Serena, “‘but guess what — you’re only in the fourth round.’”
And a fourth round that was no walkover, as she labored through a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over No. 21 seed Anastasija Sevastova in one hour, 48 minutes, reaching her fourth quarterfinal at the BNP Paribas Open in seven tries.
“You just have to reset your mind and focus on the round you’re in,” Williams said. “[It was a] completely different resolution to solving the problems and the rallies in the court. It was honestly a very good match. Well-competed on both sides.”
The No. 8 seed and oldest woman in the draw at 37, Williams could return to the Top 5 if she wins the title (and Karolina Pliskova falls short of the semifinals). And after two demanding matches in less than 24 hours and having not dropped a set in three matches here, Williams appears to only be getting stronger.
Sevastova led 4-2 in the first set, but Williams won 12 of the next 14 points to win the next three games in a row.
Williams was down a break in both sets and took the opener on her fourth set point. In the second set, she was down 0-3 and broke Sevastova to go up 5-4, doing what she had to do.
“There was no conserving energy,” Williams said. “I had to let it all go and try to win the point because she wasn’t conserving anything, I don’t think, either.”
Having lost both opening-round matches in 2018 tournaments — at Sydney and the Australian Open in January — there was no telling how Williams would look in Indian Wells. Her victory over Serena was her first over her sister since 2014 and first in straight sets since the 2008 Wimbledon final. The circumstances surrounding the match, with Serena returning to the tour after a 14-month maternity leave, only raised the stakes for Venus, and she was all-business afterward when asked about the warm crowd reaction.
“I really already was resetting, because the tournament is far from over,” she said.