WHAT HAPPENED: Beating one Williams sister is difficult enough, but No. 5 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic have pulled off an upset in defeating both of them. Playing their best women’s doubles match of the tournament this week, Hlavackova-Hradecka broke the serve of Venus and Serena Williams five times in recording a stunning 6-4, 6-2 semifinal win, advancing into the finals tomorrow.
The Czech pair lost to the Williams sisters in straight sets in their only other two previous meetings, which took place last year in the finals of Wimbledon and the London Olympics, but they were determined to come through with a win this time.
"We're so excited," said Hlavackova. "They're a great time and we knew we had to play every point as though it was important, so we're very happy to be in the finals."
The first set was a series of missed opportunities for the Williams sisters. The two-time US Open women’s doubles champions had game points in all of the first five games, but were broken three times to trail 1-4. Meanwhile, Hlavackova was still carrying the red-hot form that led her to the US Open Mixed Doubles title earlier in the day with Max Mirnyi. Striking her ground strokes with authority, she ripped numerous return winners throughout the set to keep her team in the lead. Venus finally held serve for the first time in the match at 3-5, but Hradecka responded by doing the same thing. Taking advantage of some uncharacteristically sloppy net play from the Americans, the Czech team clinched the set after Serena fired a volley far beyond the baseline.
Things didn’t get much better for the Williams sister at the start of the second set, with Serena throwing in a double fault down break point to drop their opening service game. Going for broke on their ground strokes and staying on top of the net, Hlavackova and Hradecka's high-risk brand of tennis helped in taking a commanding 4-1 lead. Perhaps already thinking about her women’s singles final on Sunday, the form Serena showed in her singles semifinal win was nowhere to be found in this doubles match as she continued to miss routine shots at the net.
The Williams sisters kept on fighting, erasing a match point on Venus' serve at 1-5 to stay alive, but it wasn't enough to pull through. Hradecka easily served out the match in the next game and the Czech pair jubiliantly celebrated their first win over the Williams sisters.
WHAT IT MEANS: Hlavackova-Hradecka have now advanced to their second consecutive women’s doubles final at the US Open. They will look to avenge their runner-up finish last year when they take the No. 8 seeds Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty-Dellacqua are in their third Grand Slam final of the year together, having finished as runner-up in both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The Czech pair split both of their matches against the Aussies this year, defeating them in a Fed Cup tie on clay in April and then losing to them in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
THE QUESTION: Do you think Hlavackova-Hradecka will win their maiden US Open title?