Serena faces third left-hander in semi-finals
Originally published on 05/09/14
Williams, who will be 33 years old later this month is the defending champion and were she to win the title it would take her total Grand Slam tally to 18 and she would become only the second woman (alongside Chris Evert in the 1970s) in the Open Era to win three consecutive titles at the US Open.
But first she must earn her place in that final by defeating Russian Ekaterina Makarova. This is the American’s 25th Grand Slam semi-final, albeit the first of 2014 and her ninth at the US Open. Of the four semi-finalists, Williams has dropped the fewest games, conceding 22 games and spent the least amount of time on court, at five hours and 34 minutes.
Williams, who plays with a Wilson Blade 104, defeated fellow American and wildcard Taylor Townsend in 55 minutes in the first round. She took one minute longer to defeat another compatriot, Vania King, in the second round, for the loss of only one game. Williams’ longest match in this campaign came in the third round, where she took an hour and 35 minutes to see off yet another American, Varvara Lepchenko who she defeated 6-3 6-3. The same scoreline was hers in the round of 16, where Williams squared off against Kaia Kanepi and in the quarter-final after losing the first three games she notched up her sixth victory over Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.
Serena has not been tested in her run to the semi-finals. The average rank of the players who have opposed her is 60, with Pennetta, seeded 11, the only seeded player she has faced. Makarova is seeded No.18 and although they have played four times before and Serena has won on three occasions, the Russian defeated Williams in the fourth round at the Australian Open in 2012. Makarova subsequently lost to her at the US Open in the same year and most recently in Dubai where the first set was hard fought and the American won first set tie break (8-6) and the second set 6-0.
Before her match against Townsend Serena remarked on the fact she jokingly said would have liked to be a leftie. “Because they just have this weird spin that no-one can ever get used to. It just bounces differently,” she said. “ It would be pretty awesome.” Curiously she has already played two left-handers, Townsend and Lepchenko and her semi-final opponent is a leftie as well, so she comes into the match well-practised. “I think when someone is a leftie, they just open the court more. You're expecting one serve. You kind of almost give up one side,” she said after the Lepchenko match.
She may also come in knowing that the last time the defending champion lost in the semi-final was in 2009. Williams is making her 15th appearance at the US Open and on Friday she needs to defeat a player who has found her form in New York, if she is to get herself one step further towards that sixth title here, not to mention the target of 18 Grand Slam titles, which would put her name in the history books alongside Martina Navratilova and Evert.
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