Serena, Li reach U.S. Open semis

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Updated: September 3, 2013

Flushing Meadows, NY (Sports Network) – World No. 1 and defending champion
Serena Williams put forth an utterly dominating performance to reach the
semifinals of the U.S. Open, while Chinese star Li Na also advanced to the
final four of the season’s final major during Tuesday’s session.

Williams faced no resistance from No. 18 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in her
quest for a fifth career U.S. Open title and second straight, with the 16-time
Grand Slam winner needing a mere 52 minutes to double-bagel the overmatched
Spaniard 6-0, 6-0 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The American star won an astounding 88 percent of her first serve points and
ripped off 20 winners to claim a berth in the semis, where Williams will face
Li after the fellow 31-year-old outlasted 24th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova by a
6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 count earlier in the day.

Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who lost to Williams in last year’s
outstanding final in Flushing, was a hard-fought fourth-round winner on
Tuesday. The Belarusian stalwart overcame 13th-seeded fellow former world No.
1 Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in just over two hours in a match that was
postponed because of rain on Monday.

Ivanovic staved off two match points and broke Azarenka to pull within 4-5 in
the final set.

In the next game, Azarenka broke right back after blowing a third match point
before converting on a fourth when her Serbian counterpart netted one final
two-handed backhand.

“I was, like, sleeping,” Azarenka said. “I really had to wake up in the second
set and try to fight for points.

“The match points were pretty bad. I really didn’t go for my shots. I kept
waiting for a mistake, and obviously it didn’t happen.”

Azarenka is now 5-2 lifetime against the 25-year-old 2008 French Open champion
Ivanovic, including a victory in California last month.

The 24-year-old Azarenka, who is now 29-1 on hardcourts this year, will meet
30-year-old former top-10 star Daniela Hantuchova in a quarterfinal on
Wednesday. The Slovakian Hantuchova edged out American fellow non-seed Alison
Riske in three sets on Monday.

Azarenka and Hantuchova have split four career meetings, but the Belarusian
has won the last two, including a win at Indian Wells earlier this season.

Azarenka is the two-time reigning Australian Open champion and lost to Serena
Williams in last year’s U.S. Open finale.

Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Li fought off a stern challenge from the Russian
Makarova in a match that lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes. The Chinese slugger
recorded two of her seven service breaks in the third set, while Makarova
failed to break Li in the deciding stanza of their quarterfinal.

Li is the first-ever Chinese player to reach the final four at the U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old Li was this year’s Aussie Open runner-up to Azarenka and
captured the French Open and was an Aussie Open runner-up in 2011. She’ll now
appear in her fifth career Grand Slam semifinal (3-1).

The 2013 U.S. Open champ will earn $2.6 million. The current world No. 1
Williams would claim an additional $1 million as a result of capturing the
U.S. Open Series.