Serena wary of Li challenge

NEW YORK: Serena Williams, looking for a fifth US Open crown, admitted after her quarterfinal match on Tuesday night that her last four opponent Li Na will not make things easy for her.

“She is playing some of the best tennis of her career,” Williams said after beating Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-0, 6-0 here. “It’s going to be a tough match.”

Williams has dropped just 13 games on her way through five matches at this year’s Open.

Ignoring a fan’s call to let the birthday girl win at least one game and a few boos when she did not, Williams showed no mercy in taking only 52 minutes to complete the rout on a windy night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“She’s a great player,” Williams said. “The conditions were so tough. It was definitely not her best tennis today. Only because I’ve been playing here for like 50 years, I’ve kind of gotten used to the conditions.”

Li said that she was nervous in her three-set victory over Russian 24th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“I’m not so happy,” Li said. “Today was the first time I was feeling so nervous. I was happy because at least I was fighting a lot on the court.

“Didn’t play the best of tennis but I still fought and am still in the tournament.”

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka did not have it easy either in her quarterfinal match against former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, winning from a set down, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Azarenka took advantage of Ivanovic’s 42 unforced errors and broke the fellow former world number one nine times in the match, advancing despite surrendering seven breaks herself and hitting just 21 winners.

“There’s a lot of room to improve, but I don’t think that my serve was a deal breaker of those games I lost,” Azarenka said.

Ivanovic and Azarenka exchanged seven breaks in a row at one stretch.

“I put her a lot under pressure,” Ivanovic said. “I felt like I could break her, but it was very frustrating that I was losing my serve constantly.”

Azarenka, who lost to Williams in last year’s US Open final, has split four career matches with her semifinal opponent, Daniela Hantuchova.

“She’s playing the best tennis of her life,” Azarenka said.

“She is really playing well and has a lot of confidence. We hit with each other a lot so there will be no surprises there.” (AFP)