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Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

Williams sisters to face defending champs in doubles quarterfinals

Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Williams sisters overcame a minor scare Wednesday. Next up: A major test.

Venus and Serena Williams overcame two service breaks in the second set to advance to the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova.

The Williams sisters, who have combined for 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, will play the defending champion and top-seeded Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci today. The Italians beat the sisters in three sets in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

“We learned from the match in Australia,” Venus Williams said. “Obviously, they play well, they play often. They’re a great team, so we’re going to learn from that and go for it (today).”

Doubles is keeping Serena Williams sharp during her two-day break between Tuesday night’s 6-0, 6-0 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro in the singles quarterfinals and her meeting with Li Na in Friday’s semifinals.

Vinci, meanwhile, lost to Flavia Pennetta in singles Wednesday and now only has doubles. She and Errani have three Grand Slam titles, including this year’s Australian Open.

FRENCHMAN CATCHES ON: Richard Gasquet is getting the hang of this five-set thing.

The eighth-seeded Gasquet reached his second Grand Slam semifinal, and first since 2007, by eliminating fourth-seeded David Ferrer 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3.

“It means a lot. I’m 27, so the last time I did it, I was 21 years old,” France’s Gasquet said. “For sure, it’s a big victory for me.”

He was playing in only the second major quarterfinal of his career, having been 1-15 in fourth-round matches until edging No. 10 Milos Raonic on Monday, also in five sets.

Gasquet is 7-12 in matches that go the distance, a far cry from Ferrer’s 19-10 mark.

But it was Ferrer who faltered down the stretch after coming back to even the match by winning the third and fourth sets. Ferrer, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in July, played a loose game while down 3-2 in the fifth, including a double-fault on break point.

Gasquet’s only previous Grand Slam semifinal came at Wimbledon six years ago, when he lost to Roger Federer at that stage.

He’s the first Frenchman to make the U.S. Open semifinals since Cedric Pioline in 1999.

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