December 12, 2013
Serena Williams marches on at US Open
Six months after she nearly died, Serena Williams is closing in on what could be the greatest achievement of her incredible career.
When doctors found a life-threatening blood clot on her lungs in March, winning the US Open was the last thing on the player’s mind.
Yet here she is, riding high on emotion and with momentum building behind her, and the title seemingly at her mercy.
On Monday, she stared adversity in the face and won again.
Drawn against Ana Ivanovic, a former French Open champion who loomed as a dangerous opponent, Williams disposed of her opponent with the ruthless determination of a woman on a mission, winning 6-3 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals.
"I feel so blessed to be here," Williams said. "A couple of months ago, I didn't think I would, so every match is a bonus."
Williams went into the match as favourite, having won her two previous matches with Ivanovic, but Mother Nature was against her this time.
The wind was blowing hard on the Arthur Ashe center court, making serving difficult. The gusts should have reduced the effectiveness of one of Williams's biggest weapons, but the 29-year-old handled the conditions better than her opponent.
Williams served nine aces and one double fault while Ivanovic landed just three aces and made eight double faults.
That was enough to give Williams the advantage but when Ivanovic made more than twice as many unforced errors as the US, the match all but ended as a contest.
"As I said even before the match, I think she's the favorite for the tournament," Ivanovic said.
"She's been playing really well, and it's gonna be tough (for anyone to beat her)."
Williams's next opponent is Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who avenged her agonising loss to Italy's Francesca Schiavone at this year's French Open to win 5-7 6-3 6-4.
It was sweet revenge for Pavlyuchenkova after she blew her chance of a first grand slam semi-finals appearance when she lost to Schiavone in the quarters at Roland Garros after leading 6-1 4-1.
"Of course I was thinking about it," Pavlyuchenkova said. "But it made me stronger I think. I never try to find excuses when I lose so I always blame myself.
"It was actually a bit easier here because it was a different situation.
"This time I won the second set...emotionally I felt better and I felt like I could win the third set."