Expectations too high for Venus: Wilander

Expectations were so high for Venus Williams that the seven-time Grand Slam champion choked in her US Open semi-final against fellow American Sloane Stephens yesterday morning (Singapore time), said former world No. 1 Mats Wilander.

Williams, 37, reached two Major finals this season but Stephens denied her a third in a 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"Venus looked a little bit nervous, she looked a little bit nervous in the Wimbledon final too, which is understandable at 37 years old because you're not going to have many more chances," Wilander, in Flushing Meadows as an analyst for Eurosport, said in his daily chat with Reuters.

The Swede said Stephens' playing style had everything to bother the ninth seed, who grew more frustrated as the match went on.

"The match-up is bad for her because Stephens gets everything back in play, she's so fast and shots that usually are winners for her, she has to hit again and hit again and it's not really Venus' strength," said Wilander.

"She likes to hit a couple or three shots and then the rally is over."

That was rarely the case against Stephens, whose defence eventually made the difference, with Williams missing several volleys.

"Today, she was forced to come to the net and you can tell she's not that natural to come and finish off points but it was a great effort to come back after losing the first set," Wilander said.

Williams admitted that Stephens bagged the crucial points.

Said Williams: "It was definitely a contrast of play. You know, I continued to play aggressive and continued to play the kind of match that it takes to win. Just made too many errors there at the end."

If she had won, it would have been the first time since 2002 that she had played in three Grand Slam finals in a year, but Wilander said it was obvious her passion for the game was still at a sky-high level.

"She was in three finals in 2002 and she could still do it 15 years later. Her passion for tennis is just through the roof. It's Roger Federer level," said Wilander.

"She should have won the match, but she's had so much success in her career and when you keep pushing the envelope and keep playing, things turn around and you're not going to have the same success at some point." - REUTERS

US OPENVenus Williams