Serena, Kim Into Semis

Serena Williams fended off Italy's No.1 to set up a blockbuster semifinal with Kim Clijsters.

Published September 08, 2009 11:59

Serena, Kim Into Semis
Serena Williams, Flavia Pennetta

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters set up a blockbuster semifinal at the US Open on Tuesday, beating their tenacious and in-form opponents in straight sets in the first two quarterfinals of the fortnight.

Clijsters was the first to advance, coming out on fire then holding off a late surge from first-time Chinese US Open quarterfinalist Li Na to snap up the first spot in the final four, 62 64. Clijsters was the sixth wildcard ever to reach the quarters of a Slam; she is the third to reach the semis of one of the four big ones.

"In that second set it got closer, but I was able to finish it off," Clijsters said. "I have a really good feeling about the way I stayed focused after the Venus match. Everything that was going on around me, so much more attention - that's something I've learned from the past, that experience I have when I've beaten big players, not to get carried away. You have to refocus on your next match."

The other two wildcards to make it this far at a major were Monica Seles, a finalist at the 1995 US Open, and another Chinese, Zheng Jie, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last year. No wildcard has ever won a major.

Williams, ranked and seeded No.2, faced one of the hottest players of the summer and was just a little bit better in every department in one of the best quality matches of the tournament, beating No.10 seed Flavia Pennetta in a tight two-setter, 64 63. The two finished the match off with a huge rally in which both players cracked near-winners and ran them all down, with Williams eventually putting the match away with a forehand winner down the line.

"It was a totally different match for me. She's a really consistent player and it was interesting," said Williams, who had a +3 differential - 22 winners to 19 errors - even though she was playing one of the fastest players out there.

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Williams is 7-1 lifetime against Clijsters, and 7-0 on hardcourts - the only win Clijsters recorded came on carpet, in the Tour Championships final in 2002. But it's not like Williams' wins have all come easily.

"She has always been able to step it up at the Grand Slams. I've seen Serena play here, and she has that face where she's like, 'I'm here to do business,'" Clijsters said. "But that doesn't mean you don't get your chances when you get to play her. The one who keeps the errors down will get through."

"I've seen how she has been moving. It seems like she's even faster than she was before," Williams said. "I was thinking maybe I should have a baby and then I'll come back faster. I have nothing but good feelings for Kim. She's such a good-hearted person. She takes tennis seriously, but life even more seriously. That's the type of person I am, too."

The other two quarterfinals will take the court on Wednesday, with Yanina Wickmayer and Kateryna Bondarenko playing in the afternoon and No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki and Melanie Oudin mixing it up at night.

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