NEW YORK, NY, USA - Former World No.1 Serena Williams positioned herself one win from a 24th major for the fourth time on Thursday night, defeating No.5 seed Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-1 to reach her 10th US Open title.
"It's really good. I mean, to be in yet another final, it seems honestly crazy. But I don't really expect too much less," Serena said in her post-match press conference.
A six-time champion at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Williams navigated through a tricky start to surge through after 70 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I think today was solid. It definitely wasn't my best tennis. It's interesting that she knows that. She's a super professional to know that. She probably could have played better, as well. I definitely know I could have played better. I'm just focusing on not that, just the next match."
The American, who broke the Open Era record for Grand Slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open, has reached three major finals since marrying and giving birth to daughter, Alexis Olympia, all in the hopes of tying Margaret Court's all-time record of 24.
"I definitely would still be playing if I had already passed it. I've had so many chances to pass it and to have a lot more, but it's cool because I'm playing in an era, like five eras with so many amazing players.
"If you look at the span of the career, the players I've played, it's amazing that I was able to get this many."
Dropping just one set en route to the semifinals, Williams has only looked stronger with each win, allowing Wang Qiang just one game in the quarterfinals.
"I felt more prepared this tournament. Wimbledon I probably had a week to prepare, so that was amazing. Australia, I was super prepared. I did great, then rolled my ankle. I shouldn't have even played the French Open. That was just a bonus just to compete in another Grand Slam.
"I just feel like I actually had time to train. I joked I trained more for Canada than I did for any other tournament this year, which was kind of funny. I just had a really tough year with injuries, mostly bad luck. I just needed to get injury-free."
Across the net was Svitolina, playing her second straight major semifinal after reaching her first two months ago at Wimbledon. Though the Ukrainian trailed Williams 1-4 in their previous matches, she had won their most recent encounter at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Svitolina was accordingly on the attack to start, engineering three break points in the opening game. Williams saved all three and flipped a 40-0 deficit in the following game to earn an essential break.
After 16 minutes decided the first two games, Williams remained in control for the remainder of the opening set, saving three more break points and ultimately serving it out on her first set point.
Taking the momentum into the second set, the No.8 seed raced out to a double break lead at 5-1, and converted her second match point on her 33rd winner - a backhand down the line.
In all, Williams struck a spellbinding 33 winners to just 20 unforced errors, hitting six aces and dropping just four points behind her first serve.
Svitolina, by contrast, will likely rue the early opportunities lost, ending the match with a zero for six break point conversion rate and just 11 winners to 17 unforced errors.
Standing between Serena and a 24th major title will be the winner of the second women's semifinal between No.13 seed Belinda Bencic and No.15 seed Bianca Andreescu.
Bencic captured her second Premier 5 title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships back in February while Andreescu hasn't lost a completed match since that month, winning the BNP Paribas Open and the Rogers Cup, winning the latter when Williams retired in the final.
"Well, she takes the ball really early," Serena said of Bencic. "She's had a great year. She has gotten incredibly fit. She's always been serious. She's continuing to be serious."
"She really knows how to mix up the game and play different shots in different ways," she said of Andreescu. "Above all, I just like her as a person. She's amazing."