Serena overcomes slow start to advance to US Open semis

The Sports Network
9/3/2014 5:49:27 PM
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Serena Williams beat Flavia Pennetta in straight sets Wednesday night to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

The top-seeded Williams, playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year, overcame a slow start to post a 6-3, 6-2 victory over the 11th-seeded Italian at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams stormed back to take the first set, winning six straight games after Pennetta earned two breaks while jumping out to a 3-0 lead.

The 32-year-old American star broke Pennetta's serve twice in the second set and won when Pennetta netted a return on match point.

Williams kept her hopes alive for a third straight Flushing Meadows title and sixth overall. She is the first player to advance to the semifinals at the U.S. Open aged 32 or older since Martina Navratilova in 1991.

Pennetta, who was bidding to reach her second career Grand Slam semifinal, fell to 0-6 against Williams and 2-8 against world No. 1s.

Williams next plays Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

The 17th-seeded Makarova secured a berth in her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal with a mild upset over two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka.

Makarova doused Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour, 27 minutes at Ashe Stadium. The Belarusian star Azarenka piled up six double faults and was broken four times on Day 10 of the fortnight.

Unusually low-key for most of the match, Azarenka smashed her racquet after a crucial unforced error gave Makarova a break and a 4-2 lead in the second set.

The left-handed Makarova is now 3-3 lifetime against Azarenka, including 1-1 at the majors.

The former world No. 1 Azarenka is having trouble re-locating her once- formidable game after returning to action in June after being sidelined with a foot injury for three months.

The 26-year-old Moscow native Makarova has played in at least the quarterfinals at four of the last eight and five of the last 12 Grand Slam events. She has yet to drop a set at the 2014 U.S. Open.

Azarenka had won 16 of her previous 18 matches in Flushing and by failing to reach the semifinals this week, she will now drop out of the top 20. She lost to Williams in the U.S. Open final the past two years.

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