NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams was cruising along in the U.S. Open semifinals, serving up another bagel, when, out of nowhere, a competitive tennis match broke out.
Didn't last long.
The defending champion won the first seven games of today's match, then actually fell down a break early in the second set, before quickly regaining it on the way to a 6-0, 6-3 victory over fifth-seeded Li Na.
The day's only drama came in the second-to-last game — an affair that went eight deuces and lasted 13 minutes, 49 seconds. Li saved six match points, but it only delayed the inevitable. Williams dropped two points in the next game, but ended it and let out a long, celebratory scream after a 107 mph service winner.
"It got tough at the end. I got a little nervous, but I was able to close it out finally," Williams said.
The victory set up a rematch of last year's final against Victoria Azarenka, who beat 83rd-ranked Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-2 in the earlier semifinal.
The first set of the Williams match marked the third straight set the No. 1 seed won at love, and when she held serve to open the second, she had won her 24th straight game of the tournament, dating to her match last Sunday against Sloane Stephens.