Serena Williams overwhelmed Elina Svitolina in the first of the US Open semifinals on Thursday night to move through to a second straight final in New York.
Williams beat the Ukrainian 6-3 6-1 in just 70 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium, ending the match with a backhand winner — her 33rd winner of the match.
In the final she will face the winner of the second semifinal between Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic, two players facing off for a place in their first Grand Slam final.
“They haven’t played yet, that’s not a fair question,” she laughed when asked on court what she thought of her potential opponent in the final. And she wouldn’t be drawn in to commenting on either player.
“That’s (for) my coach, he’s an analyst. I’m the player, I come out here and I play, so that’s it.”
Williams and Svitolina slugged out two extremely close games to open the first set; the first game extended to three deuces while the second lasted six.
But once Williams got through both of those to open a 2-0 lead, she was always in control.
She played clean, purposeful, attacking tennis but with plenty of control and margin for error. She won 86 per cent of her first-serve points, hit 34 winners and kept her unforced errors to just 20.
Svitolina, playing in her second straight major semifinal after reaching the same stage at Wimbledon, went away from the aggressive style that had served her so well in five straight-set victories en route to the last four in New York.
Instead, she retreated — midway through the second set her hit point was an average of 1.3 metres behind the baseline — and played passive tennis, hoping Williams would miss.
The American didn’t, and Svitolina had no Plan B. She coughed up plenty of her own unforced errors, finishing with 17 yet just 11 winners.
Svitolina going to take a hard look in the mirror because that next step – playing your best at the SF, F stage – is the hardest. Dominated 6-1, 6-3 by Halep in the Wimbledon semi, 6-3, 6-1 by Serena tonight. She’s only 24, but her best has abandoned her as the air thins…
— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) September 6, 2019
That was a pretty bad big match performance from Elina Svitolina. Have to think that either final opponent should be a lot tougher.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 6, 2019
“They were long games (early in the first set) and I know how she can play — she’s such a good player, and obviously two (Grand Slam) semis in a row is really hard to do and really impressive. I just wanted to not get off to a slow start and just try to hang in there,” Williams said.
With the victory, Williams enters her 10th US Open final — an astonishing 20 years after her first in 1999, which she won to claim her first ever Grand Slam singles title.
It means she surpasses sister Venus as the female player with the longest gap between her first and most recent major final appearance.
Serena also joins Chris Evert as the player with the most US Open singles wins, with 101.
“It’s just impressive, I guess. I don’t think about it — I just come out here and do what I can,” Williams said.
20 years after she wins the #usopen at 17, a 37-year-old Serena Williams is back into the final for a 10th time.
Name me a better story in sports. We’re all witnessing it right now.
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) September 6, 2019
“I couldn’t have done it without this crowd; you guys have literally been with me for 20 years, and I’m still here (smiling).
“This is the biggest stadium for tennis, period, on the whole planet. It’s such an honour for me and my opponent to be out here and play in front of these crowds, they come to watch us, and it’s amazing.
“I really enjoy it, I enjoy the opportunity to be out here and just do my best.
Williams last year fell to Naomi Osaka in the final.
29 April 2016
Victory was never out of the question when Bernard Tomic faced 17-time Grand Slam champion... More
22 February 2016
How well do you know your lobs from your lets? Take this test to see if you can be the nex... More
23 October 2019
This season has been a thrilling one for the women's tour, with young guns Ash Barty and B... More