Serena Williams has steamrolled her way to a seventh US Open semifinal appearance Friday. The 30-year-old hasn’t dropped a set or really been challenged through five matches losing just 16 games thus far at the last major of the tennis season.
Her next test comes against the diminutive Sara Errani who knocked out countrywoman and best friend Roberta Vinci to become the first Italian woman in the US Open semifinals.
“She’s playing well,” Serena said of Errani. “Finals of Roland Garros and now semis here, potential finals. I can’t underestimate her. It’s not by luck she’s been doing so well. We will have to see.”
Serena has beaten Errani in all three previous meetings but the two haven’t played since 2009 when the Italian actually snagged the opening set from Serena 6-4.
“Serena is playing unbelievable I think,” Errani said. “I’m in semifinal for something. I won many matches. I’m playing good. So I have to just going on the court and try to make my game as the best as I can, how I have to do all these days. So I will try and we will see.”
Serena is seeking her 15th Grand Slam title and a fourth at the US Open.
In the earlier semifinal, screamers Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova renew their blossoming, boisterous rivalry. Azarenka leads 5-4 winning two hardcourt showdowns earlier this year at the Australian Open and at Indian Wells, but Maria came out ahead in Madrid.
“I think we both play a pretty aggressive game,” 2006 US Open champ Sharapova said of Vika. “We’re good competitors and we love to win. I mean, who doesn’t? But she’s had such a solid year this year, kinda her breakthrough in terms of winning the Grand Slam, being so solid, so consistent, being No. 1 in the world for the first time. So a lot of firsts for her, which I think a lot of people expected in the last few years. This is kind of the year where she’s come out and, yeah, played really great tennis.”
Because of her results Azarenka has already wrapped up the No. 1 ranking a little longer. Errani, meanwhile, has clinched the No. 1 doubles ranking thanks to her run to the finals with partner Vinci.
WTA Semifinal notes:
The season’s first three Grand Slam champions – Azarenka, Sharapova and Williams – all feature in today’s semifinal line-up, in addition this year’s Roland Garros runner-up, Errani.
The last time a player won multiple Grand Slam titles in a season was in 2010 when Williams won the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Total Grand Slam singles titles among the semifinalists: Williams (14), Sharapova (4), Azarenka (1).
Williams (1999, 2002, 2008) and Sharapova (2006) are former US Open champions.
Azarenka and Errani are bidding for their first US Open final. They are their respective nation’s first US Open semifinalists in the Open Era.
Errani is one of six players on tour who have reached a Grand Slam final, but is still seeking her first victory. She would be the 42nd player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.
For the second time in three years, three of the Top 4 seeds have reached their appointed slots in the semis. In 2010,  Wozniacki,  Clijsters,  V.Williams reached the SF. This previously had not happened since 2006 US Open:  Mauresmo,  Henin,  Sharapova. The last time it happened at any Slam was 2012 Australian Open, when  Kvitova,  Azarenka and  Sharapova went to the final four.
Williams is the only player to reach the SF without the loss of a set. She was also the last player to win the title without the loss of a set in 2008 (also achieved the feat in 2002).
Williams has conceded fewest games en route to the SF (16) and least amount of time on court (5 hours, 43 minutes).
Sharapova has conceded the most games en route to the SF (31) and spent the longest time on court (7 hours, 45 minutes).
Errani enters the semis with the highest first service percentage at the 2012 US Open – 83%. Of the final four she also has the best numbers winning points off second serve – 65%. S.Williams has won most points off first serve – 81%.
Azarenka owns the best win-loss percentage on hard court this year (31-2, 93.93%).
Most career hard court titles won: S.Williams (30), Sharapova (17), Azarenka (11), Errani (1).
Azarenka and Sharapova have been announced as the first two qualifiers for the 8-woman singles field at this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul.
 VICTORIA AZARENKA (BLR #1) vs.  MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS #3)
Azarenka leads 5-4
• Azarenka is making her US Open SF debut today (previous best 4r in 2007, l. Kuznetsova)
• Azarenka is playing her 4th career Grand Slam SF (1-2 record) and this is her 4th SF appearance in six majors
• This is Azarenka’s 3rd Grand Slam SF appearance of the year (only one missing is Roland Garros, 4r)
• Azarenka is the first Belarusian to reach the SF at the US Open
• Azarenka is bidding to reach her 2nd Grand Slam final. At the Australian Open this year, she became the 41st player to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era
• The last player to complete the Australian Open-US Open double was Hingis in 1997
• A win today would put Azarenka into her 7th final of the year (4-2 record) and 23rd of her career (12-10 record)
• Sharapova is through to the SF here for the 3rd time, and first time since her title run in 2006
• Sharapova has now advanced to the SF or better at 5 of the last 7 majors (including US Open)
• Sharapova is contesting her 15th career Grand Slam SF (7-7 win-loss record) and 3r of the season (only one missing is Wimbledon, 4r)
• Sharapova is bidding to reach her 7th Grand Slam final, and 3rd of the year (R-Up Australian Open, Won Roland Garros)
• Sharapova won her 4th Grand Slam title at 2012 Roland Garros, becoming only the 6th player in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam
• The last player to complete the Roland Garros-US Open double was Henin in 2007
• A win today would see Sharapova become the first Russian through to the final since Zvonareva in 2010
 SERENA WILLIAMS (USA #4) vs.  SARA ERRANI (ITA #10)
Williams leads 3-0
• Three-time US Open champion Williams is playing her 22nd Grand Slam SF (18-3 record) and 2nd of the year (Wimbledon)
• Williams is bidding for her 6th US Open final (3-2 record) and 19th Grand Slam final (14-4 record)
• Williams has amassed a 63-9 record at the US Open (including QF win). During this tournament she has moved past sister Venus and Davenport to sit 4th on the Open Era leaderboard:
• Williams is looking to join an elite group of 5 women to win the US Open 4 times in the Open Era (Court, King, Evert, Navratilova and Graf)
• Eight of Williams’s nine losses at US Open came at the hands of players ranked in Top 10; the other loss was to an unranked Kim Clijsters (2009)
• With her QF victory, Williams picked up her 223rd career Grand Slam match win; in the Open Era, only Navratilova (306), Evert (299) and Graf (278) have more
• Williams is 69-5 since the start of the 2011 summer hardcourt season
• Errani has achieved her best US Open result by reaching the SF (previously 3r, 2009 and 2010)
• Errani has reached the SF at a major for the 2nd time this year (and in her career, having reached the final at Roland Garros). She also reached her first Grand Slam QF at this year’s Australian Open
• Errani, who defeated countrywoman and doubles partner Roberta Vinci in the QF, is Italy’s first female US Open semifinalist in the Open Era. This event marks first time Italy has had two women through to the QF stage at the US Open, and at any Grand Slam in the Open Era, though Italy has had a US Open quarterfinalist for the last 4 successive years (Pennetta 2011, Schiavone 2010, Pennetta 2009, 2008)
• With her 4r win over world No.6 Kerber, Errani improved to 3-30 lifetime against Top 10 players. She lost her first 28 such matches, before breaking through at this year’s Roland Garros (d. No.10 Kerber in QF and No.6 Stosur in SF). She is 0-19 lifetime vs. Top 5
• In her first 17 Grand Slam appearances, Errani’s win-loss record was 15-17; so far in 2012 she is 17-3 at the majors (including QF win over Vinci)
• Errani is having the best year of her career, advancing to her maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros (l. Sharapova), in addition to winning 4 singles and 7 doubles titles, and breaking into the Top 10
Arthur Ashe Stadium 12:00 PM Start Time
1. Men’s Doubles – Finals
Leander Paes (IND) v. Bob Bryan (USA)
Radek Stepanek (CZE) Mike Bryan (USA)
Not Before:1:45 PM
2. Women’s Singles – Semifinals
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before:3:45 PM
3. Women’s Singles – Semifinals
Serena Williams (USA) v. Sara Errani (ITA)
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