Tuesday’s quarterfinal collision between two great storylines—Venus Williams still rolling through Slams at age 37, and Petra Kvitova returning to the tour from a knife attack that severely injured her playing hand—grew tense in the third set, and perhaps peaked with this one shot, a highlight of the U.S. Open:
That drop shot is cold. Much of its craft lies in its stark contrast from Kvitova’s usual standard of huge hitting. She hadn’t attempted anything comparable all match. She’d spent the 20 seconds prior hitting the yellow off the ball; she’d pushed Venus some eight feet behind the baseline; and she picked that moment to nix all that speed and just finesse one over the net, so shallow it wasn’t even worth chasing after. As always, one of the sweetest parts of watching tennis is a drastic, unanticipated change of pace.
Williams won in tiebreak, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2), securing a spot across the net from fellow American Sloane Stephens in Thursday’s semifinal.