Serena Williams basically takes the racket out of your hand and doesn't let you play.
Williams moved through to her eighth final in New York with a dominant 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova, winning most points before they even started with stunning power and precision execution.
Two out of three points (60/91) never made it past four shots, and less than 10% (9) developed into any kind of rally at least nine shots or longer.
Williams doesn't want to rally because she doesn't have to, and like nearly all of her matches, it all starts with the serve.
Williams hit five aces, made 60% of first serves, won 77% of them, and an extremely high 65% of second serve points. Williams targeted Makarova's backhand out wide in the deuce court, hitting eight first serves and only three down the middle. She also attacked Makarova's backhand in the ad court, serving seven times down the middle with first serves to the backhand and only three out wide to the forehand.
When the rally occasionally develops, she holds the aces in that deck as well, with the biggest forehand in the game. Williams hit 12 forehand winners and five backhand winners against Makarova and the combined pressure with the raw power and increased weight of the ball kicked in on the very first point of the match.
Williams hit her second forehand of the opening rally behind Makarova for a clean winner and then hit another one to the same spot at 30-15 a couple of points later. On both occasions, Makarova was running hard to her right, expecting her backhand to be attacked, but Williams smartly played behind.
With the match fairly evenly poised with Williams serving at 1-1, 30-15, Williams crushed a forehand winner from well inside the baseline, dropped a 116-mph ace down the middle and then hit repeat for another short forehand winner. With Williams serving at 3-1, deuce, two big forehand winners shut the door and extended the lead. Williams closed out the first set by hitting a very deep backhand, forcing a backhand error from Makarova.
Williams raced to a 4-0 lead, and then at 5-2 in the second set she made four errors to lose the game right at the finish line. She closed the match when Makarova missed a forehand down the line from the alley.
Williams will play Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday's final and like always, it will start and end with how Williams serves.
Williams leads the tournament so far in aces (28), is making 60% of her first serves and is winning 80% of them. She has won 88% (43/49) of her service games, making the final a battle between the best server in the game against one of the best returners for the tournament.
Wozniacki is second in returns made, at 89% (305/344), which will be a huge asset to try to neutralize Williams' obvious strength. Wozniacki is tied for first in the tournament with returns won against first serves at 48% (104/218). Williams loves to attack with her first serve wide in the deuce court and will be throwing a lot of heat at the Wozniacki forehand return from start to finish. Williams holds a big edge in serve speed in the final, as her fastest serve for the tournament is 122mph while Wozniacki is tied for 24th at only 110mph. Williams is the runaway leader in baseline points for the tournament at 60%, 4% higher than the next closest and 6% better than Wozniaki's average of 54%.
The final will be a wonderful contrast in styles between Williams and Wozniacki, but the final result will be squarely determined with Williams' ability to not allow Wozniacki to construct points.
Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2014 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.