A quick reminder: Sevastova led 2-0 in the first set. She won one more game (with relative ease, oddly enough) the rest of the way.
Sevastova, facing Williams for the first time, presented an intriguing puzzle. She hits some slices that put Williams off-balance. She hit well-disguised drop shots. But once Williams figured out how to play such an opponent — coming to the net far more than usual — she was Serena the Steamroller again.
Come back this weekend to see if anyone can challenge Williams in the final.
Williams wins 6-3, 6-0
Ace. Winner (24th net point win). Semi-forced error from Sevastova for triple match point. Crowd rises.
And a forehand error! Yes, she’s human.
Serve, barely returned, winner. It’s over. Back to her ninth U.S. Open final in search of her seventh title.
Second set: *Williams 6-3 5-0 Sevastova (* denotes next server)
Williams’ 23rd win of a net point makes it 15-30. Then she earns two break points. She only needs one. ESPN is racing to show celebrities in the crowd — Robin Roberts, Spike Lee — before this is over.
Second set: Williams 6-3 4-0 Sevastova* (* denotes next server)
This could be interesting. Williams finally misses a volley. Then she finally double-faults.
Then she wins another net point. Then Sevastova hits into the net with Williams approaching again. Then Sevastova misjudges Williams’ serve and hits wide. Then Sevastova hits long.
Can Sevastova avoid the bagel in Set 2?
Williams up two breaks in second
Second set: *Williams 6-3 3-0 Sevastova (* denotes next server)
An ace! Sevastova hits an ace! It doesn’t look powerful, but it’s exquisitely placed, with a bit of spin, and Williams just watches it. That gets us to 30-0. Two points later, it’s 30-30.
Sevastova tries another drop shot. Williams races to play it softly, then starts to run back as Sevastova lobs. It’s long.
Williams’ next return overpowers Sevastova, and don’t get comfortable in your seat. This is all but over.
Second set: Williams 6-3 2-0 Sevastova* (* denotes next server)
Sevastova again wins a challenge. We get a nice shot of Serena’s dog, who is in the stands. And they won’t let us bring dogs to our loval soccer games.
After two Williams points, Sevastova hits a powerful winner at the net for 30-30. She’s not going away lightly. Then Williams … stop me if you’ve heard this before … comes to the net and wins with a volley. And again. That’s 19-for-22.
Williams opens set with break
Second set: *Williams 6-3 1-0 Sevastova (* denotes next server)
As if to prove the point, Sevastova hits wildly on a Williams approach. And she drops in a weak second serve. Three break points for Williams.
And … they’re squandered. Sevastova successfully challenges a long Williams shot for deuce. She even gets game point, but Williams again wins at the net, fending off a Sevastova slice. Then a Williams shot finds the net cord, giving Sevastova little chance to get the ball past the onrushing Williams.
Another break point. Good rally. Sevastova gets the drop shot in play this time, but Williams eats it up.
Stats, because we love them …
Sevastova is 3-for-15 on second serves.
Sevastova has more unforced errors (9) than winners (7).
Williams has 16 winners and three aces to counter her 13 unforced errors.
And the big one — Williams is 11-of-14 on net points. And she’s completely in Sevastova’s head.
Williams wins first set 6-3
First set: Williams 6-3 Sevastova* (*denotes next server)
The first serve is 120 mph. It is not returned. But we get a good rally on the second point, and Sevastova evens it up.
Then it’s the dominant Serena again. She approaches the net, and Sevastova hits it far into the doubles alley. Then an ace that holds up under a challenge. Another net approach, another wild shot, and it’s one set in the bag for Williams.
First set: *Williams 5-3 Sevastova (*denotes next server)
Sevastova gets to 30-15 and then snaps at … someone … in some language. And then it’s a surprisingly routine hold, perhaps stopping the Williams momentum, at least for now.
First set: Williams 5-2 Sevastova* (*denotes next server)
Sevastova has a look on her face that reads, “Oh, I’m playing THAT Serena Williams.”
But she manages one winner, hitting one right on the line that Williams softly but sincerely applauds, to get it to 30-15. Then Williams’ first ace makes it 40-15, and another net approach and another smash. Five straight games after that shaky, error-strewn start.
Williams breaks again
First set: *Williams 4-2 Sevastova (*denotes next server)
Williams isn’t happy about the noise from the late arrivals in the crowd. Perhaps not coincidentally, she opens with a couple of errors. Sevastova gives a point back with a double fault, but Williams can’t handle her next serve. It still gets to 30-40 as Sevastova dumps a backhand into the net. And then it’s deuce, as Williams heads toward the net and Sevastova half-lob is just over the line.
Williams hits just wide — or not, as ESPN shows the super-secret replay showing it was in, even though she neglected to challenge it. No matter. Another net point, another overhead winner. Sevastova tries to win a medium-long rally with another drop shot, and it’s another error.
The final point is almost unfair. Sevastova paints the line, sending Williams far to her right. And Williams simply blasts the ball crosscourt for the break.
First set: Williams 3-2 Sevastova* (*denotes next server)
The most interesting point was at 40-15, where Sevastova barely got a racket to Williams’ serve. The ball went up, up, up and finally landed just inside the line. Sevastova eventually took the point with a sharp backhand at the net.
Then Sevastova headed toward the net again, and Williams ripped it past her.
Williams breaks back
First set: *Williams 2-2 Sevastova (*denotes next server)
An unforced error from Sevastova — her first, but she slams away the ball in frustration — makes it 0-30. She comes back with a solid point and another Williams error. But then Sevastova’s second unforced error opens the door for Williams to break back.
Williams starts a good rally on break point, then dumps a backhand into the net. Deuce. And Sevastova hits a clever drop shot that falls dead to earn the advantage. She tries again on the next point, but it falls into the net.
So we’ve got a fun battle here. Williams is bringing the power. Sevastova is poised like a judo master trying to put her opponent off-balance.
But Williams’ net prowess is getting into Sevastova’s head. She hits wildly when Williams approaches the net. Then she misses a drop shot, and Williams breaks back.
First set: Williams 1-2 Sevastova* (*denotes next server)
Venus looks worried in the stands as her sister gives up another point. But Williams comes toward the net with authority, and it’s soon 40-15.
Williams hits long again to make it 40-30, but she gets the serve-and-volley to finish the game. She’s 6-for-7 on net points.
If you’re just joining us — yes, Sevastova is up a break. But Williams is settling in, and she’s dominating at the net.
First set: *Williams 0-2 Sevastova (*denotes next server)
Sevastova opens with her first winner of the match. Another Williams error makes it 30-0, but Sevastova hands back a golden opportunity to lob Williams.
But Sevastova is keeping Williams off-balance. A good slice, an awkward Williams return, and it’s 40-15. Williams approaches the net on the next point, and Sevastova calmly hits it past her to hold.
First set: Williams 0-1 Sevastova* (*denotes next server)
A couple of errors sandwiched around a powerful overhead winner, leaving Williams down 15-30. Then a third, and it’s double break point!
As if angered, Williams comes to the net on the next point and takes control.
But a routine shot on the next point goes wide … maybe? No! Serena challenges, and it’s barely on the line. Replay the point.
But then … another error! What’s happening here?
Those who’ve beaten Serena here
And their seeds that year …
1998: Spirlea (9)
2000: Davenport (2)
2001: V. Williams (4)
2004: Capriati (8)
2005: V. Williams (10)
2006: Mauresmo (1)
2007: Henin (1)
2009: Clijsters (wild-card)
2011: Stosur (9)
2015: Vinci (unseeded)
2016: Pliskova (10)
But there’s a roof for that.
The players are on the court.
Serena at the Open, 2010-
Didn’t play in 2010
2011: Finalist, beating Caroline Wozniacki in the semis but losing to Samantha Stosur
2012: Champion, beating Victoria Azarenka in the final
2013: Champion — same opponent, same result
2014: Champion, defending Wozniacki
2015: Semifinalist, with the stunning loss to unseeded Roberta Vinci
2016: Semifinalist, beating Simona Halep but losing to Karolina Pliskova, a loss she avenged Tuesday night in the quarterfinals.
Didn’t play last year
Serena at the Open
She debuted in New York’s big show in 1998, just 16 at the time, getting to the round of 32. She lost to Romania’s Irina Spirlea.
1999: Champion, beating a murderer’s row of Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles.
2000: Quarterfinalist, losing to Davenport
2002: Champion, beating Davenport in the semis and then Venus in the final
(Didn’t play in 2003)
2004: Quarterfinalist, losing to nemesis Jennifer Capriati.
2005: Round of 16, losing to Venus
2006: Round of 16, losing to Amelie Mauresmo
2007: Quarterfinalist, losing to Justine Henin
2008: Champion, beating Venus in the quarters, then Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic
2009: Semifinalist, losing to Kim Clijsters
(to be continued)
Meet Anastasija Sevastova …
She’s 28 years old, from Latvia via Austria.
Like Williams, Sevastova isn’t averse to making the occasional comeback. She retired in 2013, having made scant progress before running into the typical rash of injuries.
Since returning, she has carved out a pretty good career. They don’t just hand out 19th seeds at the U.S. Open. Given her ranking (18th) and her prior Open quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2017, maybe 19th is a little low.
The good news for tonight? She has never lost to Serena Williams. But they’ve never played.
She got here with a win over defending champion Sloane Stephens.
Should be an exciting contest tonight between Serena Williams and Opponent.
No disrespect intended to Anastasija Sevastova, but for many years now, the only question about Serena Williams is whether she’s back or she’s back. In other words, is she still playing her way back from injury, pregnancy or some other absence? Or is she the GOAT, once again mowing down anyone who dares to face her?
If you watched Serena’s battle with her sister Venus, and I did, you know the answer. This is the real Serena.
But strange things can happen at the Open. We’ll see if we see anything strange tonight.
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how Novak Djokovic reached the men’s semi-finals yesterday:
It wasn’t to be for John Millman. The Australian certainly performed with the same energy and fighting spirit which was enough to surprise Roger Federer in the previous round and sporadically delighted the pockets of Australian fans here. The world No 55 produced some memorable moments yet Novak Djokovic was not about to fall into the same traps which befell the Swiss.
The Serb, who grew more dangerous as the night wore on, was made for occasions like this. No-one could begrudge this 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 triumph which made it 11 straight semi-finals at the US Open, having missed last year through injury.
You can read the full report below: