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Serena into US Open semi-finals

sports Updated: Sep 09, 2011 01:18 IST

AFP
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Three-time champion Serena Williams shrugged off a slow start to book a US Open semi-final berth with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Thursday.

Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion who is seeded just 28th after a lengthy injury and illness absence saw her ranking slide, has reached the final four without dropping a set.

She looked a little shaky to start, but she found her groove against her 20-year-old opponent and once she'd broken in the final game to take the opening set the 29-year-old American was in complete control

The two players had briefly taken the court on Wednesday night, but they never got beyond their warm-up before drizzly rain prompted officials to cancel the night session as weather prevented completion of any matches for the second straight day.

Williams said her days of enforced indoor practice may have contributed to her erratic start.

"Maybe that had something to do with it," said Williams, who said she told herself not to get upset with her early errors. "Indoors I think is a little faster."

Pavlyuchenkova, seeking a first career Grand Slam semi-final berth, tried to stem the tide in the sixth game of the second.

But she couldn't convert three game points as Williams broke to allow herself to serve out the match -- which she finished off with a seventh ace.

Williams next faces either world number one Caroline Wozniacki or 10th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic.

That match was thrown into limbo when the water-logged Louis Armstrong Stadium court was deemed unplayable because of moisture seeming up through the playing surface behind one baseline.

That meant the Wozniacki-Petkovic would have to be moved, but Williams said a later start time for their contest likely wouldn't affect whoever advanced to the semi-finals.

"Both Wozniacki and Petkovic are super-fit, so I don't think it's going to matter," she said.

Nor was Williams daunted by the prospect of playing three matches in three days should she make it through to the women's final scheduled for Saturday evening.

"Now that I don't get byes any more because my ranking fell, I'm used to playing every day," she said.