Venus Williams was not prepared to even countenance the suggestion she could potentially meet younger sister Serena in the Australian Open final after she advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Mona Barthel on Sunday.
The 13th-seeded Venus had some struggles against the German qualifier but clinched the crucial points to advance to a last eight clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Serena, who has won 22 grand slam titles to her sister’s seven, is on the other side of the draw and faces Barbora Strycova in their fourth round clash on Monday and has looked the most comfortable of the players left in the tournament.
As such, a potential ninth showdown in a grand slam final, and second at Melbourne Park, between the American sisters could potentially be on the cards, though Venus sidestepped the question after her victory over Barthel.
“That could hopefully happen,” the 36-year-old Venus said when asked of the possibility. “We both still have to work very hard to get there.
“Today I played a qualifier, and she hardly ever missed. So it doesn’t matter who you come up against, they are coming and they want to win, too. They have nothing to lose.
“I’m going to be focused on winning one round at a time and focus on doing what it takes to be there.”
Williams made a fast start against Barthel as she raced out to a 3-0 lead but the 181st-ranked German fought back with the American having trouble with her ball toss at the northern end of the court as she looked directly into the sun.
Barthel broke twice to give her the opportunity at 4-3 to get back on serve but Williams capitalized on the German also having trouble with the sun to break back then served out from the Yarra River end to clinch the first set in 42 minutes.
The second set went on serve until the 11th game when Williams broke for the first time in the set, then, despite serving from the northern end, clinched victory in 96 minutes.
“It was pretty rough. It’s not easy serving in the sun,” she said. “The cycle of the sun is different here.
“Normally you’re not serving in the sun in quite the same way as other places, so it’s an adjustment.”
(Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)