The scoreline does not quite reflect what a high-quality, entertaining semifinal Serena Williams and Flavia Pennetta played on Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight. Williams, the 2nd seed and defending champion, won the match, 6-4, 6-3, and--precisely because she was pushed hard by Pennetta's defense--she produced an especially beautiful display of serves (including 7 aces), volleys and well-smacked winners. Her serving was especially good. Pennetta had only a couple of chances to break Williams, but the 2nd seed was never broken.
The first set included really good serving from Pennetta, as well. But at 4-5, her serve suddenly melted, and she was broken. (How many times has this happened to players when Serena is on the other side of the net?) In the second set, Williams raised her level even more, and was usually victorious in long and exciting rallies that reflected the talent of both players. One of those rallies--perhaps the best--occurred right before match point, when Williams sneaked a forehand down the line and became a U.S. Open semifinalist.
Williams' opponent in the semifinals will be wild card Kim Clijsters. In this morning's quarterfinal, Clijsters played Li Na, who was defeated as much by crippling anxiety as she was by Clijsters. The Chinese number 1 did not look comfortable on the court, though she did set up several winning shots. The problem was that when she went to hit the winner, she would make an unforced error. Li did this repeatedly, though--for a little while in the second set--she looked as though she might really compete. Clijsters won the match 6-2, 6-4.
Williams and Clijsters have not played each other in about 6 1/2 years, and Williams leads 6-1 in their competitions. Williams won all six of their hard court matches, and Clijsters won the one tmie they played on carpet, defeating Williams in the 2002 tour championships.