Serena Williams vs. Li Na
The world No. 1 Williams is punishing opponents, losing fewer than three games per match through five victories thus far at the US Open. In her last match she crushed Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-0.
Serena takes her 20-3 record in Slam semifinals into the match against Li. The last time she lost? In 2009 when she imploded after a foot fault call against Kim Clijsters, threatening to shove a ball down a lineswoman’s throat.
Li will look for confidence after losing her last seven matches against Serena.
“If you only think about what opponent doing, of course you already lose the match before you come to the court,” Li said. “For tennis you have to figure out what you have to do on the court, what you should do.”
Good luck with that.
Victoria Azarenka vs. Flavia Pennetta
The only player under the age of 30 in the semifinals, Azarenka will try and hit the veteran Pennetta off the court in a matter reminiscent of today’s muscular version of the game.
“It shows that our sport is taking physical ability to another level,” Azarenka said of only the second time in the Open Era that a Slam semifinal has featured three players age 30 or over. “Everybody is taking care of their body much more, paying attention to nutrition, fitness, everything. Everybody is working out. Recovery is more important. I think that’s the big aspect of allowing older players to have a longer career.”
In the semis Azarenka hit Daniela Hantuchova off the court 6-2, 6-3.
Azarenka and Pennetta have split their two previous career meetings, but Azarenka will be the more physical on this occasion, and no amount of Pennetta scrambling will earn her a win.
Pencil Serena and Vika into the final here, both in straight sets. Actually, use a pen.
Three of the semifinalists have won a Grand Slam singles title at some point in their careers: Williams (16), Azarenka (2)and Li (1).
Pennetta is the only semifinalist making her Grand Slam debut, and bidding for her maiden Grand Slam singles final.
Three of the semifinalists are aged 31 years old. In the Open Era, this is only the second time three of the semifinalists are aged 30 years or older (also 1994 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova, Gigi Fernandez, Lori McNeil. The remaining semifinalist was Conchita Martínez).
Azarenka is playing her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year (also Australian Open, Roland Garros); Li and Williams their second (also Roland Garros).
Williams (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012) is a former US Open champion.
Azarenka is a former US Open runner-up (2012).
Williams and Azarenka are on track to repeat last year’s final match-up. The last time the US Open singles final featured the same two women in back-to-back years was 2001-2002 with Venus Williams and Serena Williams.
Li and Pennetta are both former US Open quarterfinalists, who have achieved their best results at this event by reaching the SF this year.
Li is the first Chinese player to reach the US Open SF. Pennetta is bidding to become the first Italian woman to reach the US Open final in the Open Era.
Williams and Pennetta have both advanced without the loss of a set. Li has lost one, Azarenka two. The last player to win the title without the loss of a set was Williams in 2008 (also achieved the feat in 2002).
Williams has dropped the fewest games en route to the SF (13) and spent the least amount of time on court (5 hours, 42 minutes).
Azarenka has conceded the most games (34) and spent the most time on court (8 hours, 19 minutes).
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