Williams survives Halep scare in US Open

Williams survives Halep scare in US Open

Serena Williams’ serve was broken for the first time at this year’s US Open.

Twice, in fact. She dropped a set for the first time in the tournament, too, pushed to the brink by Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.

In a match filled with fantastic shotmaking and enthralling exchanges, neither player budged until Williams righted herself in the third set to emerge with a 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory over Halep to get back to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

The No. 5 seed Halep was the first seeded player Williams faced in the draw.

“I’m glad I got tested,” Williams said.

“Her level really picked up in the second, but I had some opportunities that I didn’t take.”

Halep staved off all 12 break points held by Williams in the second set and forced a third.

“I wasn’t very happy about that, but I tried not to let that get me down,” Williams said about all the chances she let slip away.

“I tried to stay positive and I knew that if I did, I could just stay in the match.”

Right at the start of the third set, Halep held two break points at 15-40, but Williams came through to lead 1-0.

Otherwise, as Halep said, the story of the match would have been different.

Instead, Williams converted the only break chance she would get – or need – in the deciding set to go ahead 3-1, and was on her way.

She finished with 18 aces, a 50-20 edge in total winners, and won the point on 26 of her 32 trips to the net.

Not bad for someone who entered tournament with questions about a sore right shoulder that began bothering her after she won Wimbledon in July.

She is bidding for her seventh title at Flushing Meadows and 23rd overall at a major tournament – both would be records for the Open era, which dates to 1968.

A year ago in the semi-finals, Williams’ attempt to finish off a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a stunning loss to unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy.

Her next opponent will be 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat the 34-year-old American’s older sister, Venus, in the fourth round, then eliminated 18-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-2 6-2 to reach the first major semi-final of her career.

In the other semi-final, second seed Angelique Kerber plays two-time US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki.

Kerber has a chance to end Williams’ record-tying string of 186 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

Wozniacki eased into the final four with a ruthless 6-0 6-2 win over wounded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

Vinci’s game fell apart after losing the opening set on a foot fault, allowing Kerber to take last nine games, winning 7-5 6-0.

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