Record-chasing Serena powers into 10th U.S. Open final



NEW YORK, USA – Serena Williams cruised into a 10th US Open final as she brushed aside 5th seed Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-1, to claim a record-equaling 101st win at Flushing Meadows Thursday, September 5 (Friday, September 6, Manila time).

Williams is seeking a 24th Grand Slam singles title to match Margaret Court's all-time record and will face Bianca Andreescu on Saturday in her bid for a record seventh US Open triumph.

The 19-year-old Andreescu defeated Belinda Bencic 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, in the other semifinal match.

"To be in yet another final, it seems honestly crazy. But I don't really expect too much less," said Williams.

"I've had so many chances to pass it (Court's record) and to have a lot more, but it's cool because I'm playing in an era with so many – 5 eras with so many amazing players."

The 37-year-old American, who made her US Open debut in 1998, drew level with Chris Evert for the most wins in tournament history after advancing to a 33rd major final.

"It's impressive. To be in any club with Chrissie is awesome," said Williams, who lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open.

"I couldn't have done it without this crowd. You guys have literally been here for 20 years and I'm still here."

Williams fought off 6 break points across her opening 3 service games before finding her rhythm to dispatch Wimbledon semifinalist Svitolina in 70 minutes, hitting 34 winners against just 20 unforced errors.

"I know how (Svitolina) can play, she's such a good player. Obviously two semis in a row is really hard to do and I just wanted to not get off to a slow start and I wanted to hang on in there." 

Williams, who was beaten by Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final in July, returns to the championship match in New York a year on from her infamous meltdown in a loss to Naomi Osaka overshadowed by controversy.

She is chasing a first Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open and hasn't won the US Open since 2014.

Svitolina, 24, was attempting to become just the second Ukrainian to play in a Grand Slam singles final after Andrei Medvedev, who lost in 5 sets to Andre Agassi at the 1999 French Open.

Svitolina, who accounted for two-time former US Open champion Venus Williams and 2017 runner-up Madison Keys en route to the last four, put Williams under early pressure at Arthur Ashe Stadium but wilted as her rival hit her groove.

'Legendary' Serena  

After carving out 3 break points in the opening game, Svitlona promptly dropped her own serve, with 3 more opportunities to hit back passing her by in game 5 as the vastly more experienced Williams dominated the key points.

"On the important moments, she step up, always step up, always brings her best game," Svitolina said.

"She knows what she has to do. She has unbelievable strength. She gives lots of power. There's lots of power behind her shots all the time. That's what makes her unbelievable, legendary tennis player."

Williams backed up a quarterfinal statement win over Wang by defeating Svitolina for the fifth time in 6 attempts, avenging her loss at the 2016 Olympics in their most recent encounter.

She has featured at more Slams (73) than the other three semifinalists combined. Williams also now owns the largest gap between first Slam final appearance and most recent – at 19 years and 362 days.

'Surreal' moment  

Andreescu, who fell in US Open qualifying the past two years, continued her meteoric rise on her main draw debut in New York to overcome former Swiss prodigy Bencic.

The 15th-seeded Canadian played catch-up for much of the opening set and saved a set point at 4-5 with a forehand winner, but she rattled off the first 5 points of the tiebreak and sealed it when Bencic swatted a forehand long.

Bencic, the 13th seed, raced 5-2 ahead with a double break in the second set but Andreescu refused to buckle and reeled off the final five games to set up a rematch of last month's Toronto final against Williams, who retired from that clash with a back injury.

"It's just surreal. I really don't know what to say. It's a dream come true playing Serena in the finals of the US Open. It's crazy, it's crazy," Andreescu said.

"I think it's just all the hard work I've put in through the years. If someone told me a year ago I would be in the US Open final this year, I'd tell them they were crazy."

Andreescu is trying to become the first Canadian singles Grand Slam champion, and could be the fourth first-time major champion in 5 years to win the women's US Open title.

"It was really just about some points that turned everything around. Also in the second set, I think I had so many break chances which I didn't use. But I think she played the best on them," Bencic said. –