Serena Williams brings her trademark intensity to the women’s semifinals, and opponent Kim Clijsters needs no reminding.
“I’ve seen her play here, and she has that face where she’s like, ‘Okay, I’m here to do business,”’ Clijsters said.
Williams knows exactly what the Belgian is talking about. “I see it after in photos,” Williams said. “I’m pretty horrified sometimes. I think, ‘Oh, my God, who is that?’
‘Despite Clijsters’ stellar play since coming out retirement, Williams goes in as the favorite. She’s also expected to clinch a third Grand Slam title this season and 12th overall.
The Williams-Clijsters showdown highlights Friday’s action, weather permitting, with teens Caroline Wozniacki and Yanina Wickmayer facing off in the other semifinal. Wozniacki, Denmark’s darling, and Wickmayer, Clijsters’ fellow Belgian, had never before appeared in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, much less a semifinal.
Williams leads Clijsters 7-1 in their head-to-heads and hasn’t dropped a set through five matches, avoiding the blips that sometimes accompany her early round Grand Slam encounters.
Williams heads the tournament in aces and points won behind her first serve. Ominously for Clijsters, Williams has only been broken in two matches, in the first and third rounds. She stepped up her game as the competition got better, overpowering Slovak Daniela Hantuchova and cruising past surging Italian Flavia Pennetta.
And here’s a stat – Williams’ last defeat in a Grand Slam semifinal came six years ago on the clay at the French Open, her least productive surface.
“It doesn’t mean that you don’t get a chance when you get to play her,” Clijsters, officially a wild card because she has no ranking yet, said. “That’s something I’ve always felt in the past, too. Every player always has a moment in a match where, whether it’s one or two games, they just kind of lose that aggressiveness a little bit or lose focus. It’s up to the other player to kind of feel that and step it up at that time.”
Clijsters, who captured her lone major at the US Open four years ago, has had a few bumps on her road to the semis, beginning in the first round against unpredictable Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli. Then in the fourth round, Clijsters fell 6-0 to Serena’s older sister, Venus, in the second set, recovering in the third.
Clijsters, like Williams, enters the clash with a 12-match winning streak in New York. A feel good story thanks to being one of the few moms on tour – and one of the most popular players around – Clijsters had the crowd on her side against Williams.
Her forehand is still big, and the movement still impressive. Williams, too, is coming off a marathon 2