On a sunny and humid day 11 of the 2012 US Open at Flushing Meadows, Williams took to Arthur Ashe stadium – which had just been set ablaze by the previous hard fought semifinal – to easily book her spot in Saturday’s championship match by handily beating Italian, Sara Errani in straight sets.
Serena bulldozed through the over-matched Italian, a clay court specialist who was just grateful to make it as far as she did. With a serve topping out in the upper 80s in mph – compared to Williams’ 119 mph – and more variety than power, Errani was mere batting practice for an on fire Serena Williams who had yet to drop a set prior to their meeting … and that stat remained intact.
During the match, the veteran Slam contender could simply do as she pleased with the ball, smacking winners from all parts of the court and calling upon blistering aces to speed the demolition along. The match ended in just over an hour, with Errani managing to eke out only three games – mostly based on Williams’ unforced errors as opposed to her imposition, ultimately falling 1-6 2-6 … A grim scoreline for a semifinal match.
With plenty of energy left in the tank due to her making quick work of her draw, Williams will next meet feisty Belarusian, Victoria Azarenka, for the championship match.
Azarenka, the current world no. 1, took out Russia’s Maria Sharapova in a three-set thriller earlier on Ashe, which took nearly three hot and grueling hours to complete. Sharapova is known for her never-say-die spirit and had an astounding streak of not having lost any three-set matches all year (Azarenka had a similar record), but couldn’t come up with the goods against the determined Belarusian. Hurt by patches of double faults and choking on key points after a dominant first set performance, the weary Russian finally went down 6-3 2-2-6 4-6, sending Azarenka to her first US Open final.
Serena has a record of winning 9 of the 10 previous meetings between she and her championship match opponent, but that in no way signals an easy ride. The Belarusian is a good mover and a clean ball striker, with her only weakness being her lackluster serve. If Williams continues the tear she’s been on recently, aka ‘the summer of Serena’, and summons motivation from the unfortunate finishes she experienced at the US Open the past two years, she will still have a fight on her hands, but should pull out the victory.
“Obviously, Victoria wants to win, too,” Williams said during a post match interview. “But I’m American, guys. Last one standing. Go USA!”
Serena will be fighting for her 15th Grand Slam title overall, her 4th US Open title and one step closer to being “the greatest woman to ever play the game of professional tennis,” as John McEnroe put it.
For more US Open results check here.