Venus v. Clijsters

98230894 Venus v. Clijsters Venus Williams gets her test today.

It’s the only time this U.S. Open–whether she wins or loses–that she’ll have to play a fellow two time+ Grand Slam champion. Neither Venus nor Clijsters are playing their best tennis–Clijsters got through her quarterfinals match by seemingly losing less than Stosur–but we’re hoping they put on a show today. For Venus it presents an opportunity. An opportunity to finally elbow her way back into a Grand Slam Final that isn’t named Wimbledon. It would be a big statement from her.

Over the last few years, Venus Williams has played the role of a sort of Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. She’s always a competitor at a major, she might make her way to a semifinal or a quarterfinal, but if you’re a Justine Henin or a Kim Clijsters or–most especially–a Serena Williams, you’re going to beat her. So, her little sister isn’t playing at this Open, and the door is open. Clijsters hasn’t lost at the Open in a very long time–dating back to before her first retirement–and won’t crumble because of the pressure. Venus is going to have to win it on the merits.

Considering that these two are meeting at a moment where neither is exactly playing their best tennis, I’m expecting a match not unlike the 4th round match we saw last year. The first two sets were a blur–each won at love–but dramatic tennis finally emerged in the third set. If Venus wins today, she’ll be proving something to a lot of folks out there who aren’t convinced that she can still beat the best. The battle of the two veterans begins in a couple hours.