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Sisters in another final, the hard way

New York, Sept. 7 (Agencies): The family that plays together stays together.

If that is the case, neither Venus nor Serena Williams will be leaving home anytime soon. On Friday at the US Open, the sisters set up a fourth family final from the last five Grand Slams.

It wasn’t a cakewalk for neither as top seed Serena got past Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 7-5 and champion Venus outlasted Amelie Mauresmo 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

While father Richard sat courtside happily snapping away with a camera, mother Oracene watched from the players’ box making ‘W’ signs with her fingers as their daughters, numbers one and two in the world, strengthened their stranglehold on the sport.

“They are dominating a lot more than I thought possible. They are beginning to step it up a lot,” Richard whispered courtside as he watched Serena’s victory.

Certainly neither Mauresmo nor Davenport, two of the game’s most powerful hitters, could break the Williams family monopoly on a hot and humid day at Flushing Meadow.

Neither a painful right-hand blister nor a gallant Gallic effort could wrest Venus’ grip from the crown she won in 2000 and 2001 as she reached her third consecutive New York final.

“I’m happy to be in the final,” Venus said as she left the Arthur Ashe stadium court. “All in all I am just here to take the title. After that I can go home.”

Lying in wait, though, is little sister. Whether Serena will choose her black cat-suit or her shocking pink “strawberry ice” ensemble for Saturday’s clash under New York floodlights is anybody’s guess.

But what is clear is that no favours will be asked nor given and Serena will be gunning for a second US Open crown and third major of the year.

Since losing to Venus in last year’s final here, Serena has beaten her big sister in the last two Grand Slam finals — capturing the French Open and stealing her Wimbledon crown.

On Friday, she fired off a deafening statement of intent in 82 minutes.

Davenport is the last non-Williams to lift the US crown, in 1998, the year before Serena’s maiden Grand Slam triumph, but the top seed dispatched her in style with powerful hitting and smart serving.

“I just decided this year that I wanted to be the best,” Serena said, referring to her sparkling form since missing January’s Australian Open through injury.

“Whatever happens, another trophy is going to go to our home. We are leaving this tournament with the maximum amount of money, points and a little bit of silver.”

Down 2-5 in the second set, Serena won the last five games against Davenport and took nine of the last 10 points.

The fourth-seeded Davenport, coming back from knee surgery in January, had three set-points in the 10th game, but Serena held on to her serve.

Then Serena broke Davenport’s serve at love and took a 40-0 lead in the deciding game. But she followed with just her second double-fault. Her final serve was a powerful one.

Davenport did return it, but Serena smacked the ball back to the far corner of the court to Davenport’s right. Davenportdid have her chances but got overpowered in the points that mattered. Every time Serena got into trouble, she pulled of a huge serve. She had 12 aces in the match and showed just why she is the world No. 1.

Hard work

Venus earlier did enough to down Mauresmo.

Mauresmo took to the court in bright afternoon sunshine with a patched-up left thigh but a healthy disrespect for the champion’s authority and attacked from the start.

Venus looks all arms and legs on a tennis court, but there is a highly intelligent brain controlling those athletic limbs.

As far as she was concerned, there was no place for Mauresmo at the Williams family weekend. The Frenchwoman is one of the most powerful women in the sport. Venus, though, is a superpower and no amount of blows from Mauresmo could sink her as she recovered from the loss of the second set to clinch victory two minutes short of two hours.

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