Serena Williams plot Olympic revenge while Elina Svitolina blocks the path of the US Open
NEW YORK: Serena Williams will seek to avenge a 2016 defeat at the Rio Olympics in the semifinal of the US Open on Thursday against Elina Svitolina while the American points to a record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
A race to the last four in New York, sheltered by the defeats of enemies for a long time. Maria Sharapova and Wang Qiang of China brought a century of victories at the US Open for Williams, chasing his first Slam crown since the Australian Open 2017.
Williams, who turns 38 at the end of this month, has a 4-1 lead in his career over Svitolina, but the Ukrainian triumphed in his most recent encounter: a third round clash in the Olympic Games in Rio.
"That was a tough Olympic Games for me. Oh, man. Lost in doubles for the first time. Just really devastated about that doubles loss. Then obviously singles shortly after," Williams recalled after her 6-1, 6-0 quarter-final demolition of Wang in just 44 minutes.
Williams, who is looking for an important 24th title to match Margaret Court's all-time record, will likely face a much tougher proposal on the fifth Svitolina seed.
The 24-year-old Odessa native has not yet lost a set in Flushing Meadows while eliminating twice former champion Venus Williams and runner-up 2017 Madison Keys.
He is obviously a fighter. Recover many balls. He doesn't make many mistakes. She is one of those players who does everything very well. So I also have to do everything right, Williams said.
Svitolina retains good memories of her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Olympic champion Williams defending in Brazil, a decisive moment that came just two months after the American strangled her 6-1, 6-1 in Roland Garros.
It was an amazing environment. I played a great game. Was very young. Not very young, but I was a little young at the time. I did not have great victories at that time. For me, it gave me a lot of confidence, Svitolina said.
It gave me the confidence to let me believe that I can play consistently against the best players.
Svitolina has backed his Wimbledon semifinal in July, where he lost to the eventual champion. Simona Halep , with another deep career in Flushing Meadows.
Try to become the second Ukrainian to play a Grand Slam final in singles, after Andrei Medvedev, who lost in five sets to Andre Agassi at the 1999 French Open.
Svitolina cites last year's WTA Finals title in Singapore as a key factor behind its innovative Slam performances this season.
I think in general I am stronger. Mentally I am handling pressure points better. Sometimes you may not be there that day, not playing your best. But you try to find your own way, your own way to handle those kinds of moments, he said.
Williams criticized 25 winners in his defeat of Wang, who failed to hit only one, and Svitolina is fully aware of what he can expect from an opponent seeking a seventh US Open title.
I have to react quickly and try to take a risk when I have them, Svitolina said.
I think I have to run a lot, like all other games. That is normal. And I try to react: I played a lot of big hitters in this tournament, a lot, and I have to react quickly with my feet and my shots, too. Then, when you have the opportunity, cheer up.