Serena not looking past Sevastova semi-final showdown
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[September 06, 2018]
By Frank Pingue
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Serena Williams, who is gunning for a
record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title, and rising Japanese talent
Naomi Osaka are each a win away from meeting in what could prove to
be a fascinating U.S. Open women's final.
The next obstacle standing between Williams and a ninth trip to the
final is rejuvenated Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in Thursday's
first semi-final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, before Osaka faces 2017
runner-up Madison Keys.
The 20-year-old Osaka made a statement of intent by trouncing Lesia
Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 in the quarter-finals, and will be out for revenge
against Keys, who beat the Japanese at Flushing Meadows in 2016.
Despite the sweltering conditions, six-time winner Williams has
barely broken a sweat in New York as she cruised through her quarter
of the draw and the American will be a heavy favorite to topple the
Williams has never faced the Latvian before but is familiar with the
28-year-old's tactical, all-round style of play.
"I've seen her play a lot. She's been playing really well for
actually a long time. So obviously I know her game really well. She
clearly knows mine," said Williams, the 17th seed.
"She's definitely someone that gets a lot of balls back and
something I have to be ready for."
Sevastova, who retired in 2013 for nearly two years because of back
and muscle issues, has impressed since her return and picked up the
third title of her career with a win at Bucharest this year.
The Latvian made her third consecutive trip to the New York
quarter-finals this year and knocked defending champion Sloane
Stephens out to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
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Serena Williams of the United States hits to Karolina Pliskova of
Czech Republic in a quarter-final match on day nine of the 2018 U.S.
Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis
Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Despite being two wins shy of what years ago would have seemed like
an improbable title, Sevastova refuses to look beyond her semi-final
"I don't look that far ahead. I mean, there is still semi-finals,"
she said. "I was also two times in the quarters and I also didn't
look ahead. It's still long way to go, I think. The grand slams are
Wimbledon runner-up Williams, who returned to the sport in March
after giving birth last September, is also trying to keep thoughts
of how close she is to matching Australian Margaret Court's all-time
Grand Slam record out of her mind.
Williams beat Czech Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, marking her
first win over a top-10 player since she returned to competitive
"I'd been a couple steps away at the last grand slam, so I'm
definitely not ahead of myself," said Williams, who fell to
Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final.
"I still know that no matter whether I'm in the semi-finals or the
finals, I have a really long way to go to win. Again, that proved to
be true at Wimbledon."
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