Serena showed no mercy against Li Na in U.S. Open semifinals

Friday September 6th, 2013

Serena Williams pounded 19 winners, including four aces, to Li Na's eight, in their semifinal matchup.
STAN HONDA/Getty Images

Three quick thoughts from No. 1 Serena Williams' 6-0, 6-3 victory against No. 5-seed Li Na in the second U.S. Open semifinals on Friday.

• Serena Williams was simply at a different level against the No. 5-seed LI Na, who's realistically the third-best player in the draw. She overpowered Li with weighty and deep shots, she served and moved better and didn't give Li a chance to bring her variety to bear. With the exception of a ten-minute lapse early in the second set, Serena simply dazzled. We keep hearing about Father Time's assault on Roger Federer at age 31. Well, Serena was born within a month of Federer, and she is playing as well as ever (which is saying something). Dropping just 16 games in six matches, she is now a match from a fifth Grand Slam title.

• What a curious match for Li Na. For five rounds, Li -- another competitor north of age 30 -- played inspiring tennis. She attacked with unprecedented frequency, she defended and served well and showed obvious poise. She said in a recent Tennis Channel interview that she's a work in progress, but today she was rendered a bystander. After she was blown out in the first set, she caught a gear for a brief moment and led in the second set 2-1, 40-0. But just like that, Serena woke up, resumed pounding and, mere minutes later the match was over, a 6-0, 6-3 rout.

• After "suitable rest," Serena will return to the court Friday night to play in the doubles semifinals with Venus. And with the finals on Sunday, there will be scant time to reflect on this win. But this has the make the short list of Serena's "best ever" matches. Against a top opponent in form, on the biggest stage in the sport, Serena was peerless. Stats don't always tell the story, but they offer a lot of forensic evidence. Serena served well, returned well, kept the ball in the court and simply smothered Li Na. Last year, Azarenka came within two points of taking down the Great Serena Williams. But, boy, it's hard to see Serena failing to close out still another Grand Slam.

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