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Serena grabs 100th US Open win as record title nears


Serena Williams of the United States hits a return during the US Open quarterfinal match against Wang Qiang of China.
 NEW YORK, Sept 4: Serena Williams earned her 100th win at the US Open on Tuesday with a brutal 44-minute demolition of Wang Qiang, firing an ominous warning to rivals in her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.

Six-time US Open champion Williams dismantled Chinese 18th seed Wang 6-1, 6-0 in a complete mismatch that was the quickest at this year’s tournament to set up a semifinal clash with Ukrainian trailblazer Elina Svitolina.

Williams brought up a century of US Open wins to move to within one of the all-time leader Chris Evert.

“It’s really unbelievable, literally. From when I first started here, I think I was 16, I didn’t think I would ever get to 100. I didn’t think I would still be out here,” Williams said.

The 37-year-old American is seeking a 24th major title to match Margaret Court’s longstanding record, and smashed 25 winners against first-time Slam quarterfinalist Wang, who failed to hit a single one.

The 27-year-old Wang had not lost a set during her best Slam run that included a defeat of reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty in the last 16, but she was powerless to stop a Williams onslaught at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“When I play someone who is playing really well, I know I have to either step it up or go home and I wasn’t ready to go home. I had to come out here and play really well,” said Williams, suffering no ill effects from the ankle she rolled in her previous match.

“Physically I’m feeling great. More than anything I’m just having fun every time I come out here.”

Wang, trying to become just the fourth Chinese player to reach the last four of a Slam, won just four points in the second set and 15 in total.

“It’s not easy to play against her,” Wang said. “The power, like, I cannot handle it. Just too much for me.”

Williams captured her last Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant and hasn’t won the US Open since 2014.

Fifth seed Svitolina defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-4 to become the first Ukrainian to reach the US Open semifinals, matching her run to the last four at Wimbledon in July.

“It feels amazing. It was a very, very tough match. We were both striking the ball well. It was quite even,” Svitolina said. “I’m very, very happy the way I handled the pressure.”

Svitolina watched a pair of match points pass her by at 5-3 on her opponent’s serve as Konta gamely fought to stay alive, but the Ukrainian closed out victory in the following game.

Svitolina had already knocked out two-time former champion Venus Williams and 2017 runner-up Madison Keys and is in a class of her own as the only Ukrainian woman to reach this stage at a major. – AFP

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