On a blustery night at the United States Open when the stars were often better served by receiving, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters managed to muddle through.
Their victories, secured despite plenty of human frailty, set up a high-profile semifinal Friday that will also be a rematch.
Last year in the fourth round here, on her way back from retirement and maternity, Clijsters won in three wildly unpredictable sets with the crowd behind her on her way to the title.
This year, she and Williams will meet deep in the second week at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where, in Tuesday quarterfinals, Williams won, 7-6 (5), 6-4, over Francesca Schiavone and Clijsters won, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, over Samantha Stosur.
“Obviously a great competitor,” the third-seeded Williams said of Clijsters. “She plays her best tennis, it seems, at this tournament. I’m sure it’s a place she feels really comfortable.”
There can no arguing that point now that Clijsters has won 19 straight matches at the Open, dating to her first, pre-retirement title run in 2005.
But Clijsters, of Belgium, often looked far from her comfort zone on Tuesday night as she and Stosur, a French Open finalist this year, battled the elements and each other.