Serena Williams reached the semi-finals of the US Open for the fourteenth time. The six-time winner in New York defeated Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Pironkova surprised at her return after three years earlier Garbine Muguruza, Donna Vekic and Alizé Cornet and seemed on her way to a stunt against the 23-time grandslam winner, who preyed on Margaret Courts record (24 titles).
The 32-year old Bulgarian initially looked fitter, moved more smoothly on the track than the six-year older American and decided the first set a beautiful backhand, the weapon with which she also took the decisive break at 3-2.
The start of the second set didnt bode well for Williams either, as the sometimes puffing and shocking American immediately lost her serve, but the game then turned around.
Carelessness crept into Pironkovas hitherto almost flawless play, who handed in her service with a forehand in the net and at 3-4, again with a poor forehand, took the decisive break.
Pironkova was immediately broken in the third set in a marathon game and could not turn the tide. Williams, whose solid service (20 aces) and forehandreturns were again a powerful weapon, finished the job with a lovegame.
Williams invariably reached at least the semifinals in her last eleven participations in the US Open. In only two seasons Williams didnt reach a single grand final (1998 and 2006).
To make it to the semi-finals, she had to deal with Viktoria Azarenka, who had remarkably little trouble with Elise Mertens.
Mertens, too strong for Sofia Kenin (USA, 2) in the previous round, beat the Belarussin on all fronts, who dictated the game from the baseline with fierce blows and drove Mertens to despair with her flaming returns.
The Belgian (16) did not win any of his own service games. Unplaced Azarenka reached the finals in New York in 2012 and 2013 and both times she lost to Serena Williams. The American is now her opponent in the semi-finals.
The other finalist is from the match between Jennifer Brady and Naomi Osaka.