New York: Serena Williams got the better of Li Na and defeated her 6-0, 6-3 to reach the final of US Open here on Friday. Serena is now just one win away from her 17th Grand Slam title.
It was one way traffic early on in the match, as the No.1-seeded Williams came out firing on all cylinders, winning the first seven games and building a 6-0 1-0 lead. The No.5-seeded Li picked her game and pounced, holding for 1-all then breaking for 2-1, and even getting to 40-0 in that game. The momentum was clearly flipping - but Williams would have none of it, digging out of that game to get the break back and then reeling off the next three to go ahead 5-2.
Then came the best game of the match. A resilient Li fought off six match points in that game - many of them with winners - and, after almost 14 minutes, finally held serve again to close the gap to 5-3. But the resistance was short-lived, as Williams confidently served it out in the next game, blasting a big serve up the middle that drew a forehand error from Li. Game, set and match to Williams, 60 63.
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka returned to the US Open finals, beating Flavia Pennetta in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
There were some tense moments in the 52-minute first set as the two players struggled mightily on serve, with seven of the first nine games going to the returner - but it was Azarenka who tamed her delivery just in time, holding serve for just the second time to close the opening frame out, 6-4.
In the second set, Azarenka broke in the first game, Pennetta broke in the second game and Azarenka broke in the third game. But the No.2-seeded Azarenka managed to find her range and began pulling away, eventually closing the match out, 6-4 6-2.