Melbourne - Ageless Venus Williams shows no signs of slowing
down with another Grand Slam semi-final beckoning, but to get there she needs
to beat a player who feels her time has come.
The American will face off with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on
Tuesday, with either American Coco Vandeweghe or French Open champion Garbine
Muguruza waiting in the last four.
If Williams gets through it will be her 20th time in the
last four at a major. For the Russian, it will be the first.
Despite her lack of big-time success, Pavlyuchenkova feels
that at 25 and with three Slam quarter-final appearances under her belt she is
ready to take the next step.
"I definitely feel like I've been long enough on the
tour, but at the same time I can't compare myself to Venus and Serena, because
they have been there," said the 24th seed.
"I remember I was a little girl - the racquet was
bigger than me - and they were ready to play in finals of a Grand Slam. So, of
course, I can't compare myself to them, but at the same time I kind of also
"I have had some matches with Venus before, as well. I
played her before, so I know how it feels to play against her. Let's see who's
The pair have met five times before, with Williams, who is
yet to drop a set in Melbourne, holding a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head, most
recently a win in Montreal in 2014.
At 36, she is enjoying every moment of the tournament but
also retains the hunger that drove her to seven Grand Slam titles, with the
possibility of meeting sister Serena in the final an added incentive.
She is familiar with Pavlyuchenkova's game, and will be
ready for whatever is thrown at her.
"I know her game. I have played a lot of matches this
tournament kind of not knowing what to expect," said the 13th seed, having
met two qualifiers and China's Duan Yingying, who she admitted knowing
"That can be a little - it's a whole different
"Now I have played her, I know what to expect. So I can
almost already be settled in before I get to that match, so it's a good
In the other quarter-final on Tuesday, giant-killer
Vandeweghe, who stunned world number one Angelique Kerber in the last round,
meets seventh seed Muguruza.
The confident American, who also ended the comeback of
Eugenie Bouchard en route to her first Australian quarter-final, has no fear of
"It's just another person that's in front of me,
whoever it may be, if it's number one in the world, number 130 in the world, it
doesn't matter, it's still an opponent to get in my way of achieving my
goals," she said.
Muguruza is an aggressive power-hitter, whose game has
similarities to Vandeweghe.
"She is going to play that way, and no other way. For
me it depends on if I can match it, as well as if I can beat her to that punch
of getting first strike, first play," said the unseeded American.
Being in the last eight at Melbourne is also uncharted
territory for Muguruza, who also yet to drop a set as she targets a second
Grand Slam title.
She has played Vandeweghe twice before, with a win apiece.
"She's a tricky player, she has a lot of power, full
shots, serve, everything,' she said.