June 1, 2016 / 11:05 AM / 4 years ago

Bacsinszky battles past 'inspirational' Venus into quarters

PARIS (Reuters) - An eight-game winning streak helped Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky battle her way past a weary-looking Venus Williams on Wednesday into her second French Open quarter-final in a row.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros - Venus Williams of the U.S. v Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland - Paris, France - 1/06/16. Bacsinszky returns a shot. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

After losing the first two games against a player she called an inspiration, the Swiss eighth seed won the first set without losing another and led 2-0 in the second as she took control of the match from the center of the court, winning 6-2 6-4.

Bacsinszky will now play Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who beat American Madison Keys, in the last eight.

The Swiss, who reached the semi-finals last year before losing in three sets to Serena Williams, kept the world number one’s older sister guessing by varying the pace and depth of her play with precise groundstrokes and disguised drop shots.

Reflecting on her first win over Venus Williams in three attempts, Bacsinszky told a news conference the 35-year-old American was “definitely an inspiration ...and has been a great player for so many years.”

Asked about the eight-game streak, the Swiss said she had struggled for control early on. “I tried to tell myself to move more... I was just focusing on playing deep and mixing also the rhythms... I think variation was the key.”

Speaking earlier on court, she agreed it was important to have won in straight sets as “there is no longer any respite” in terms of days off between each match in a tournament ravaged by rain.

Ninth-seeded Williams, playing her 19th Roland Garros and the oldest player in the women’s draw, had strapping on both knees and moved stiffly, especially in the first set, once losing her footing as she tried to reach a sliced short ball from her opponent that ended up in the net.

She sought to hit winners from sometimes unpromising positions, aiming to keep the rallies short, and in all the American notched up just six winners to Bacsinszky’s 18 and 24 unforced errors against 18.

“The most disappointing part is just not playing well,” Williams told a news conference.

“It was just a frustrating day of balls not going in or hitting the net tape... but I competed as well as I could out there and she played a smart match. That definitely added to my troubles.”

Williams dug deeper in the second set, breaking her opponent twice in succession to level at 3-3 as she started to find her range with the heavy groundstrokes that were previously going long or finding the net.

But the Swiss broke back to lead 4-3 and held serve twice more to close out the match with her first ace.

Editing by Ken Ferris

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