American Venus Williams booked her spot in the Taiwan Open final without dropping a set all tournament long, but the No.1 seed had to overcome a stiff challenge from Yulia Putintseva, winning 7-5, 6-3 here on Sunday.
Former World No.1 Williams broke the No.3 seed early and rushed ahead to a 4-1 lead. But after some words from her coach during the changeover, Putintseva roared to life, winning four out of the next five games to level the score at 5-5.
They stayed toe to toe until a double fault and a mishit forehand from Putintseva gave Williams a break to close out the opening set at 7-5.
Williams and Putintseva started out the second set as evenly matched as they ended the previous one: they traded breaks and holds to keep the score tied at 2-2.
But from then the errors began to creep up on Putintseva and Williams closed out the match 7-5, 6-3.
“What a tough opponent today,” Williams said of Putintseva after the match.
“She has so much energy. It was very difficult to win, but I’m very glad to be in the final tomorrow.”