Serena Williams registered an easy 6-3, 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova in the 2018 US Open quarter-final to continue her march towards a record Grand Slam title win.
The number 17 seed is playing the best tennis since returning from maternity leave, and, as she demonstrated during her last 16 victory over Estonian Kaia Kanepi, conqueror of Simona Halep, her fitness is returning as well.
In their fourth round match, Williams overcame a Kanepi fightback to win it in three sets. Despite being whitewashed in the first set in just 18 minutes, Kanepi fought back to take the second, and the quality of her play forced Williams, in turn, to up her game in the third to close out the match.
The 36-year old American may also feel that the stars are aligned in her favour this year, with a number of potential obstacles to a seventh US Open title having been removed – Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, and Angelique Kerber have all been knocked out of the tournament already – and Williams will fear nobody left in the draw.
That does not mean she will be underestimating Pliskova, and nor should she. The number eight seed has looked in good form herself, and had a much more comfortable passage through to the Quarters, beating Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in straight sets.
She has a strong serve which Williams will find hard to break, and appears to have got over her inconsistency in Grand Slams which dogged her in the past – she has made the fourth round or better in seven of her last nine majors.
Moreover, recent history is on the side of the 26-year old Czech. The last time the pair met in a competitive match was at the same tournament two years ago, when Pliskova, the underdog, beat Williams in straight sets at the semi-final stage, 7-5, 6- 2.
She went on to lose to Kerber in the final, but with so many big names out of the tournament already, she will equally be fancying her chances to progress, and go one better by lifting the Cup in New York next weekend.
It will be a close match, but Williams will have the crowd behind her, and that may just give her the edge she needs to book her place in the last four.
No time for the match has yet been announced, but an evening slot is likely.