World number one Serena Williams took no chances with the searing heat in Arthur Ashe Stadium court by racing to a 6-1 6-3 victory against Ekaterina Makarova to reach the U.S. Open women’s final on Friday.
Williams, winner of the last two U.S. Opens, came out firing, striking the ball with ferocious force and dazzling accuracy needed only 60 minutes to advance against the 17th seeded Russian.
Williams, who failed to reach the quarter-finals in any of the year’s previous three slams, is aiming for her sixth U.S. title and an 18th singles crown that would tie her with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the all-time list.
From first point to last, Serena got to the ball quickly and stayed down throughout her strokes, just the way the textbook teaches. She didn’t over hit and she didn’t pull off the ball too soon. Serena played with depth and pace without going for too much. And this power player was by far the more consistent one today—she won eight of the nine points that lasted nine shots or longer.
She focused well enough, in fact, that her opponent disappeared from the picture. Makarova said she wasn’t that far off her game, but it didn’t matter. Serena finished with 24 winners while Makarova, who is a shot-maker against most other opponents, finished with six.
On her way out to the middle of the court, she glanced toward the Jumbotron above the court. At that moment, the match statistics were flashing on the screen. She hesitated a bit to have a look at that. One stat that might have stuck in her mind was her first-serve percentage, which was a pedestrian 60. She wasn’t happy with that, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing coming Sunday.
“I think I served better in my quarterfinal,” Serena said. “With that being said, it’s good news knowing I could try to serve better for one more match.”
Still, there wasn’t much that Serena could be unhappy with today. She knows that form like this doesn’t come along in every Grand Slam semi-final and she needed to make the most of it while it lasted and she did exactly the same.
At 3-0 in the second set, after hearing the plea from the upper deck to “slow down”, Serena stepped back from the baseline and took a second to flip her hair back at which the crowd laughed. Then she stepped back up and served an ace. It landed with a thud against the wall behind the court. No one told her to slow down again.