After a bittersweet three-set victory over big sister Venus in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, No. 1 Serena Williams finds herself two wins shy of tennis’ first calendar Grand Slam in 27 years. The last player to accomplish the feat was Steffi Graf, and Williams is also chasing the German legend's mark of 22 Grand Slams at Flushing Meadows.
Based off her record against her semi-final opponent and unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci, and her astonishing mark versus the remaining potential challengers, Williams is on track to sew up her seventh U.S. Open title and rewrite the history books. The 33-year-old has showed little signs of slowing down and should have the home crowd on her side.
Continuing her solid all-around play, Williams recovered from dropping the second set to her sister to finish off the victory 6-2 1-6 6-3, and has thus far lost only two sets throughout the tournament.
Next up is 32-year-old Vinci on Thursday, a player who’s ranked No. 43 in the world but has lost all four of her matches against Williams and has never claimed a single set. Vinci hasn’t exactly faced a murder’s row on her road to the semifinals either, with No. 25 Eugenie Bouchard pulling out before their match in the fourth round after suffering a concussion from a fall in the locker room and Vinci then toppling 22-year-old Kristina Mladenovic of France.
Assuming Williams blows past Vinci, and given her 2/5 favorite status before the tournament began, there’s little reason to believe the American will lose, as the four contenders left in the field have done little to thwart Williams over the years.
Between all four of the quarterfinalists in Wednesday’s matches, No. 2 Simona Halep meeting No. 20 Victoria Azarenka and No. 5 Petra Kvitova facing No. 26 Flavia Pennetta, Williams owns an astounding and dominant 35-6 all-time record.
Halep, considered Williams’ top competition along with Azarenka before the tournament began, has a 1-6 mark against Williams and her only win came at Indian Wells earlier this year when Williams pulled out minutes before the semifinals due to a right knee injury.
Williams has faced Azarenka more than anyone else left in the tournament, and she’s won their last five meetings over the last two years for a 17-3 overall mark.
Kvitova’s won her last two meetings against Williams, both on Madrid’s clay, but Williams owns the all-time matchup on every other surface at 5-2, including 3-0 on the hard court.
Should Pennetta break past Kvitova and make her second U.S. semifinal, history suggests she’ll have the most difficult time against Williams considering she’s never claimed a victory in their previous seven matches. Technically the 33-year-old Pennetta owns one win over Williams, but that was back in 2005 in Toronto when Williams pulled out due to injury.