Rhythmically swinging her right arm, Serena Williams’ eyes were riveted on Karolina Pliskova during the coin toss.
Sizing up the last woman to beat her at the US Open, Williams dispensed powerful payback in tonight’s rematch.
In a clash of the sport’s top two servers, Williams erupted with an eight-game tear disarming Pliskova, 6-4, 6-3, charging into her eighth straight US Open semifinal.
It is Williams’ 12th trip to the final four in 18 Flushing Meadows appearances and sends the last Top 10-seeded woman out of the Open.
On a day in which two Americans—defending champion Sloane Stephens and John Isner—tumbled from the tournament, the 36-year-old Serena showed staying power nearly tripling the 2016 finalist in winners (35 to 12).
“Honestly, when I get to a Grand Slam I feel like I want to play really hard and do well,” Williams said. “I love this game and I love playing.”
Solidifying her status as the favorite to capture an Open Era record seventh US Open crown, Williams will face first-time major semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in Saturday’s final.
The 19th-seeded Sevastova dethroned defending champion tephens, 6-2, 6-3, to make history as the first Latvian woman to reach the US Open semifinals.
It’s been said perhaps the only experience worse than losing to Williams in a Grand Slam is beating her—because retribution is coming in the rematch.
Nineteen years after capturing her first US Open at age 17, Williams’ desire is as fierce as her first serve, which rocked the radar gun at 118 mph tonight.
Coming face-to-face with the lone Czech to beat her in a major, Williams got off to a skittish start.
The eighth-seeded Pliskova broke first, raced out to a 3-1 lead and had two break points to extend to 4-1.
That’s when peer pressure propelled the 23-time Grand Slam champion to a higher gear.
The world No. 26 began to relax and swing freely firing a 109 mph missile to save the second break point and eventually hold for 2-3.
“The crowd was really rooting for me and I felt so bad because everyone out here was cheering and I wasn’t winning,” Williams told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi afterward. “So I felt I gotta try harder. I gotta do better.”
The serve is the signature shot for both women, but the 5’9″ American’s wrecking ball serve was much more effective tonight. Williams whipped 13 aces compared to three for Pliskova.
In a match of first-strike tennis, Williams turned the tide pounding Pliskova in forehand exchanges. The 17th-seeded American hit 13 forehand winners compared to one for the lanky Czech.
From 2-4 down, Williams rampaged through eight consecutive games transforming the deficit into dominance.
When Pliskova stuck a backhand into the net, Williams snatched the 49-minute opener claiming five of the final six games in the set.
A supreme front-runner, the six-time champion boasted an 87-2 record when winning the opening set at the US Open.
Reading her opponent’s second serve, Williams ripped off a love break for 2-0. An emphatic eight-game run powered her to a set and 4-0 advantage.
At that point, the finish line seemed a formality.
Pliskova had other ideas. She broke in the fifth game then sealed a love hold with an ace for 2-4.
A seven-point surge put Pliskova in position to break back in the seventh game.
Williams was having none of it. She fought of all four break points, including scalding aces out wide to save the third and fourth break points. The six-time champion denied 10 of 12 break points in all.
Unloading another big serve down the middle put Williams within one game of her 12th US Open semifinal.
Thumping two aces and a smash brought Williams to triple match point.
Sealing her 100th career match on Arthur Ashe Stadium in style, Williams slashed an ace out wide closing a clinical win in one hour, 26 minutes.
The oldest woman in the field now stands two wins from equaling Margaret Court’s all-time of 24 Grand Slam titles.
A year after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, Serena is enjoying rebirth on the game’s biggest Grand Slam stage.