Stage set for Serena's semi-finals push in Grand Slam bid

Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:37am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The penultimate stage is set for the sixth step in Serena Williams' campaign to put an exclamation mark on her storied career by winning a fourth successive U.S. Open to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam sweep.

History would heavily favor Williams in the U.S. Open semi-finals on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

She owns 21 grand slam singles titles, which is 21 more than the other three players combined, and is gunning for her seventh U.S. Open singles trophy while the others are straining to reach their first U.S. final.

Unfancied Italians Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci have also made just one grand slam singles semi-final between them before, while world number two Simona Halep has made the semi-final stage at just two other grand slams.

The 32-year-old Vinci, ranked 43rd, will meet Williams, who has won their four previous meetings, including the most recent last month in the quarter-finals at Toronto.

"She played me really tough, and I didn't really expect that," said Williams, who has won 53 of 55 matches this year and won the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles.

"I'm not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She's not in the semi-finals of a grand slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play.

"Definitely a little bit more old school ... it's fun to see people that can still come to the net and still hit slice and still hit one-handers. It's different. It's good for tennis."   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. exercises between sets to stay warm during her match against Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson