By Howard Fendrich
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.
In men’s fourth-round action in the afternoon, top-seeded Novak Djokovic won 45 of 53 service points while eliminating 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 in a grand total of only 79 minutes.
Djokovic, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and lost in last year’s final to Andy Murray, reached his 18th consecutive major quarterfinal. Next up is a match against 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who was two points from defeat but came back to edge two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.
Earlier Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Li needed nearly 2½ hours to get past 24th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.
On three occasions, Li went up a break in the second set, nearing eventual victory each time, but could not finish things. She then was up 3-0 in the tiebreaker before faltering. Still, she recovered well and closed the match by taking the last four games.