Serena Williams looks in fine form heading into the final four at the US Open, where she will play Elina Svitolina for a spot in the final for the second year running. She will also be hoping for her first title in New York since 2014, where she capped off a threepeat with a win over Caroline Wozniacki.
After a masterful performance to beat Ashleigh Barty, many would have felt Qiang Wang could trouble Serena – especially if she had a bad day. As it was, the World No. 8 handed down a 45 minute tennis lesson to the Chinese player ranked just inside the top 20. Serena hit 25 winners and only 10 forced errors compared 0/13 from Wang in the 6-1 6-0 win and didn’t even need to get her serve going, hitting only 1 ace. “It feels good,” Williams said afterwards. “It feels like, okay, this is what I’ve been training for. This is how hard I’ve been working. It feels like, you know, hard work pays off when that happens. I’m okay to play a lot of matches in a row; I’m okay to play 44-minute matches,” said Williams. “I think at this stage in my career I have so much experience of playing super-long matches and super-short matches, I’m pretty much ready for everything.”
Oddly enough, Svitolina’s rise in slams has coincided with a lack of trophies in WTA Tour play. The Ukranian has looked a completely different player over the past two slams, with a better mindset providing the basis for two straight semi finals. She was the favourite going into her match with Johanna Konta and may have been forgiven for buckling under the pressure. “Mentally I’m handling the pressure points better. For sure, sometimes it’s possible that you’re not there on that day, not playing your best. But you try to find your own path, your own way how to handle those kind of moments. And I think since Singapore I handled the pressure very good. When I’m fit and when I’m ready to play, I can play very solid and have very good baseline game. [Singapore] gave me the belief I can play very consistent against the top players.”
Svitolina is obviously playing at a high standard right now and will be full of confidence going into her second straight slam semi final. She has put in two stellar defensive performances to frustrate two of the biggest hitters on tour but will need an even better one to have a chance of victory here. More importantly, she will need to choose her moments when to take it to Serena who until the past year – has been at her finest at the deep end of tournaments. “[Svitolina] is obviously a fighter, she gets a lot of balls back. She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She’s one of those players that does everything really well. So I have to do everything well, too.” said Williams. Their last meeting was won by Svitolina at the 2016 Olympics but it went the way of the American in the four meetings previous.
Prediction – Serena Williams in three sets