NEW YORK – From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, American Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
The score said it all Tuesday: 6-0, 6-0.
Yes, Williams is looking better and better with each match at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament. With two more victories — no matter the exact scores — she will earn a fifth U.S. Open title and 17th major championship overall.
The No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, the first “double bagel” in a quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows since 1989, when 18-time major-title winner Martina Navratilova did it to Manuela Maleeva.
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“When you play against Serena,” Suarez Navarro said, “you know these things can happen.”
Williams won 53 of 71 points. The first set took all of 19 minutes. The second was slower, lasting 33 minutes.
Williams was asked whether she would describe her performance as close to flawless.
“Of course not,” the defending champion said with a laugh. “I played good, though. I played really good. I was just more focused than anything.
“ You know, I like to believe there is room for improvement.”
That might be bad news for her opponent in Friday’s semifinals, 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China.
Through five matches, Williams has dropped a total of 13 games. She is 65-4, with eight titles, in 2013.
“The conditions were so tough, so it definitely was not her best tennis today,” Williams said about Suarez Navarro.
Tough conditions, huh? That swirling wind in Arthur Ashe Stadium sure did not appear to bother Williams. She wound up with a 20-3 edge in winners and won 23 of 26 points on first serves.
“I’ve been playing here for, like, 50 years,” Williams said with a laugh. “I’ve kind of gotten used to the conditions.”
After that match, defending men’s champion Andy Murray of Britain went into Ashe and encountered some problems along the way to a 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the fourth round.
Ahead 5-3 in the opening tiebreaker, Murray dropped four points in a row. Next for Murray is a quarterfinal against No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
In the afternoon, top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia won 45 of 53 service points while eliminating 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 in 79 minutes.
All eight men’s quarterfinalists are from Europe.
In a fourth-round match postponed from Monday because of rain, No. 2 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat No. 13 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a topsy-turvy match with a combined 16 service breaks and 17 double faults.