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September 4, 2013

Serena heads into semifinal

NEW YORK — From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

The score said it all Tuesday night: 6-0, 6-0.

Yes, Williams is looking better and better with each match at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament. With two more wins — no matter the exact scores — she’ll earn a fifth title at Flushing Meadows and 17th major championship overall.

The No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, the first “double bagel” in a quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows since 1989, when 18-time major title winner Martina Navratilova did it to Manuela Maleeva.

Williams won 53 of 71 points and dominated pretty much every statistical category. The first set took all of 19 minutes. The second was slower, lasting 33 minutes, but no less lopsided.

“When you play against Serena,” Suarez Navarro said, “you know these things can happen.”

In Friday’s semifinals, Williams will play 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China.

Asked in an on-court interview if her game is peaking, Williams replied: “No. Not yet. I hope not. I’m just trying to do the best that I can.”

Well, that just happens to be rather good. Through five matches, Williams has dropped a total of 13 games so far. For comparison’s sake, know this: Suarez Navarro lost more games than that in her previous match alone, 15, while eliminating No. 8 Angelique Kerber.

That victory, and her seeding, should have demonstrated that Suarez Navarro is quite capable of playing well, too. But not on this evening. Not against Williams, who is 65-4 with eight titles in 2013. Going back to the start of Wimbledon last year, the 31-year-old American is 96-5 with 13 trophies, including from three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments plus the London Olympics.

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